Russian opposition leader hospitalised after suspected poisoning

Russian opposition leader hospitalised after suspected poisoning

- Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny is unconscious in hospital with suspected poisoning

- The anti-corruption campaigner fell ill during a flight and the plane made an emergency landing in Omsk

- His press secretary Kira Yarmysh said they suspected something had been mixed into his tea

- A hospital source confirmed treatment for poisoning to media outlets

- The 44-year-old is a staunch critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin

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Russian opposition leader and critic of President Vladimir Putin Alexei Navalny has fallen into a coma with suspected poisoning.

His press secretary Kira Yarmysh said Navalny fell ill shortly after takeoff on a flight from Tomsk, Siberia to Moscow on the morning of Thursday, August 20.

Alexei Navalny: Russian opposition leader hospitalised after suspected poisoning

Alexei Navalny is unconscious in hospital with suspected poisoning. Photo: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

In a series of tweets, Kira said the pilot was forced to make an emergency stop 500 miles away in Omsk, where he was rushed to an intensive care ward.

Doctors reportedly concluded he had been poisoned via a hot liquid and that the toxic agent absorbed faster through the hot liquid.

“We believe Alexei was poisoned by something mixed into his tea. It was the only thing he drank in the morning," Kira wrote.

In an interview with the Russian publication MediaZona, the press secretary said Navalny drank the tea in the airport just before boarding.

She said he began to feel ill on the plane and was sweating.

“I asked him whether some water would help, and he said no. Then he went to the toilet, and lost all consciousness," she said.

However, the press secretary their was heightened suspicion of foul play due to the changing behaviour and nervousness of doctors at the health facility.

A number of police officers had surrounded the opposition leader inside the intensive care ward.

"The doctor saw me in the corridor, said that 'some things are confidential' and led police officers to another room," she said.

Navalny, who has progressed from an anti-corruption blogger to become the most obvious face of opposition to Putin, has been subjected to a campaign of continuous pressure from the authorities,

Further reports indicate this pressure included dozens of custodial sentences. In 2019, the Kremlin foe claimed he had been poisoned while in detention.

Opposing the Kremlin - the executive branch of the government of Russia or of the Soviet Union, especially in regard to its foreign affairs - especially fiercely can be a dangerous business.

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Opposition politicians, activists, whistle-blowers, journalists and defectors have frequently found themselves jailed, injured, poisoned, or worse.

In 2011 he was arrested and imprisoned for 15 days following protests over vote-rigging by Mr Putin's United Russia party in parliamentary elections.

Navalny was briefly jailed in July 2013 on embezzlement charges but denounced the sentence as political.

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