Alexei Navalny Hospitalized in Russia in Suspected Poisoning
By Yonette Joesph
LONDON – Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, was in intensive care and unconscious in a Siberian hospital Thursday after suffering symptoms of what his spokeswoman called poisoning.
A plane carrying Navalny, 44, who was returning to Moscow, made an emergency landing in Omsk after he started feeling unwell, the spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, said on Twitter.
“We assume that Alexei was poisoned with something mixed with his tea,” Yarmysh wrote. “That’s the only thing he drank this morning.”
The head doctor at the hospital in Omsk, Alexander Murakhovsky, said Navalny was in “serious condition,” according to the Russian news agency Tass. No further details were released, and the government had no immediate comment on Navalny’s condition.
Last year, he was hospitalized with a “severe allergic reaction” in jail, which his doctor at the time suggested could be the result of poisoning after he was detained for leading an unauthorized election protest.
He had been arrested and sentenced to 30 days in jail for calling a rally to protest a decision by the election authorities to bar several opposition candidates from running for Moscow’s City Council.
Navalny, a lawyer, anti-corruption activist and vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin, was doused with a bright green liquid in the Siberian city of Barnaul in 2017 by an unknown assailant who had pretended to shake his hand.
He said that a doctor had told him he had lost 80% of the sight in one eye after suffering a chemical burn from the green liquid.
While there was no independent confirmation that Navalny had been poisoned before falling ill Thursday, the Russian security services have been suspected of targeting a number of dissidents and others, including Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent who was poisoned in England in 2018.