Russian Dissident Alexei Navalny Apparently Poisoned

“We suspect that something mixed in with Alexei’s tea. It was the only thing he’d drunk since morning, ”tweeted Navalny spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh.

Posted on Aug 20, 2020 at 4:00 pm ET

Yuri Kadobnov / Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks during a demonstration in 2019.

Kiev – Russian opposition leader and perennial enemy of the Kremlin, Alexei Navalny, is in a coma after being poisoned Thursday morning, said his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh.

The 44-year-old Navalny, a staunch critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, fell ill on a flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk to Moscow, said Jarmysh.

“The plane landed urgently in Omsk. Alexei has been poisoned. At the moment we are going to the hospital,” tweeted Yarmysh.

This morning Navalny returned to Moscow from Tomsk.  He felt bad during the flight.  The plane landed urgently in Omsk.  Alexey has poisonous poisoning.  Now we're going to the hospital by ambulance

This morning Navalny returned to Moscow from Tomsk. He felt bad during the flight. The plane landed urgently in Omsk. Alexey has poisonous poisoning. Now we’re going to the hospital by ambulance

03:43 – August 20, 2020

The Russian news agency TASS reported that the Omsk Emergency Hospital had confirmed Navalny’s admission and that his condition was serious.

“We suspect that something mixed in with Alexei’s tea. It was the only thing he’d drunk since morning, ”Yarmysh wrote in another tweet. “Doctors say the poison is absorbed faster by the hot liquid. At the moment Alexei is passed out. “

Yarmysh said Navalny was in a coma and in an intensive care unit on a ventilator. Anatoliy Kalinichenko, the Omsk doctor treating Navalny, told reporters that he is in stable but serious condition, according to a video tweeted by Yarmysh. Kalinichenko declined to confirm whether Navalny was in a coma or to provide details of his diagnosis.

Photos and videos posted online recorded the sequence of events.

On Instagram, a man named Pavel Lebedev, who was on the same flight as Navalny, posted a picture of the opposition leader drinking tea at Tomsk Airport before take off.

In a video Lebedev filmed on board the flight, which was also posted on the Mash Telegram channel, a man who allegedly is Navalny can be heard screaming. Lebedev wrote on Instagram that after taking off, Navalny went to the toilet of the plane and never came out.

A second video released by Mash appears to show an immobile Navalny being loaded onto a stretcher after the plane lands in Omsk.

A local news agency posted a video of him being taken to an ambulance on the tarmac at Omsk Airport.

Navalny, a lawyer and prominent anti-corruption activist, has been a thorn in the side of Putin and the Russian opposition for a decade. During this time, he was attacked, beaten and detained for various violations, including calling for unauthorized protests and embezzlement. He has condemned all charges against him as political.

Frederick Florin / Getty Images

Navalny at the European Court of Human Rights in 2018.

During a 30-day prison sentence for organizing unauthorized protests in July 2019, he fell ill and was diagnosed with “contact dermatitis”. But he said he thought he was poisoned. His personal doctor also said he may have been exposed to an unknown “toxin”.

In June of that year, Navalny described a controversial vote on amendments to the Russian constitution, which Putin was promoting as a “coup” and “violation of the constitution”. The changes, approved in a national referendum, allow Putin to take on two more terms and run the country until 2036.

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