Kremlin Critics: The Long List of Poisoned Oppositionists

Symptoms, some of which are very similar: Navalny is not the only one: The long list of poisoned Kremlin critics

Politicians, journalists, business people and security officers: there are repeated incidents in which critics or opponents of the Kremlin are poisoned. Now opposition politician Alexey Navalny is said to have been the victim of such an act. The list of similar, sometimes sensational cases is long.

Alexej Navalny: “Allergic Reaction”

If the suspicion of poisoning in the opposition politician is confirmed, this would be the second poisoning within a year. In the summer of 2019 Navalny ended up in hospital because of an “acute allergic reaction” diagnosed. According to the politician’s doctors, this could have been caused by toxic substances.

There is conflicting information about Nawalny’s condition. Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Jarmysch writes on Twitter: “A representative from the Omsk hospital said that Navalny was not poisoned. An hour ago we were told about a deadly poison that is also dangerous for others. What is going on here?”

On Friday, Russian doctors agreed to move Navalny to another hospital in Omsk. A plane from the Berlin initiative Cinema for Peace landed there that morning to bring Navalny to Berlin.

Pyotr Versilov: “Similar symptoms”

On September 11, 2018, the editor of the online magazine “Mediazona” and member of the well-known punk group Pussy Riot, Pyotr Wersilow, suddenly felt ill. After a few days in the intensive care unit of a Moscow hospital, he was transferred to the Berlin Charité. According to the German doctors, Versilov was poisoned. But they could no longer determine with which substance. Back then, Moscow doctors told Verilov’s relatives behind closed doors that it could have been the poison atropine.

Versilov himself believes the poisoning is revenge for his research into the murders of three Russian journalists in the Central African Republic in the summer of 2018 who wanted to research the activities of the Russian private armies there. On Twitter, he now compares his symptoms with those of Navalny. His poisoning was “very similar”. The later the analysis takes place, the lower the probability of identifying the poison.

Sergej and Julia Skripal: “Novichok assassination attempt”

The Russian-British double agent Sergej Skripal and his daughter Julia were found unconscious in Great Britain on March 4, 2018. The British Scotland Yard then put the two Russian citizens Alexander Petrow and Ruslan Boschirow on suspicion of poisoning.

The poison was identified as “Novichok” by the British military. It belongs to a group of powerful neurotoxins. The British authorities held Russia directly responsible for the attack. This led to an unprecedented wave of expulsions of Russian embassy staff from different countries.

Russian President Putin called the allegations “nonsense”. He dubbed the double agent Skripal a “spy”, a “traitor to the fatherland” and a “bastard”. Although Putin denied any responsibility for the poisoning, in early 2019 he ordered the closure of the chemical weapons research center in Sheikhany, Saratov region. It is there that the Novichok Group’s poisons were allegedly developed.

Julia and Sergei survived the Novichok attack, but the poison claimed another human life. A few weeks later, a bottle disguised as expensive perfume, which was thrown in a trash, ended up in the hands of the 44-year-old unemployed Dawn Sturgess, who died after contact with the poison.

Vladimir Kara-Mursa: “Diagnostic Poisoning”

Vladimir Kara-Mursa was an employee and supporter of the politician Boris Nemtsov. He was poisoned twice in just 18 months: the first time in May 2015, three months after Nemtsov’s murder, and the second time in February 2017.

Kara-Mursa was in a coma both times. He himself spoke of a “diagnosed poisoning”. In 2017, however, Moscow’s chief toxicologist Yuri Ostapenko told DW that the doctors had not been able to confirm poisoning in May 2015. According to an independent investigation in France, traces of heavy metals were found in the patient’s body.

Alexander Perepilichny: Death while jogging

The whistleblower Perepilichny fled to the UK in 2009. The businessman is believed to have helped international investigative teams investigate the corrupt machinations of Russian officials, including those implicated in the case of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. The 44-year-old Perepilichny died unexpectedly while jogging in 2012. Shortly before his death, he had successfully passed a medical examination.

First heart attack was given as the cause of death. But later, a poisonous substance was found in the businessman’s stomach, which is contained in the rare plant Gelsemium elegans, also known as heartache grass. After the attempted murder of the Skripals, the investigation into the death of Perepilichny in Great Britain resumed but no murder could be proven.

Alexander Litvinenko: Polonium in tea

Former Russian Forderation Domestic Intelligence Officer (FSB) Alexander Litvinenko was granted political asylum in Great Britain in 2000. Litvinenko was the one who made perhaps the most serious allegations against the Russian intelligence services and the Russian President himself. He alleged that the FSB was behind the series of bombings on homes in Russia, as well as several other terrorist attacks.

Litvinenko was poisoned with tea in a London restaurant in November 2006: the autopsy revealed traces of polonium-210, a rare and highly radioactive element. To this day, London has been demanding the extradition of the suspects, especially the former secret service agent and member of the Russian State Duma, Andrei Lugovoi.

Anna Politkovskaya: “Unknown toxins”

The Russian-American reporter for “Novaya Gazeta” did not die of poisoning – she was shot dead on October 7, 2007 in the elevator of her apartment building. The journalist, who reported on war crimes committed by the Russian army in Chechnya, was poisoned three years before her death when she flew from Moscow to Beslan on September 2, 2004 to report on the hostage-taking at a local school by terrorists.

On the plane, Anna Politkovskaya suddenly felt bad and passed out. She was hospitalized in Rostov-on-Don with a diagnosis of “poisoning with unknown toxins”. It later emerged that the samples that could have provided information about the nature of the poisoning had been destroyed.

Author: Mikhail Bushuev (mo)

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