Russian doctors were fighting on Thursday to “save the life” of opponent Alexei Navalny, who was placed in intensive care at a hospital in Siberia after becoming unwell on a plane, his entourage crying of poisoning.
Alexei Navalny, one of the fiercest critics of the Kremlin, was on his way from Tomsk to Moscow when the aircraft he was in had to make an emergency landing in Omsk due to his sudden deterioration in his health. .
“The doctors are doing more than anything they can, they are really fighting to save his life,” Anatoly Kalinichenko, deputy director of Omsk No. 1 emergency hospital where the opponent was, told reporters. admitted, placed in intensive care and connected to an artificial respirator.
Speaking to Moscow’s Echo radio station, his spokesman Kira Iarmych, who was traveling with him, said he was convinced the opponent had been the victim of “intentional poisoning”.
“We believe Alexei was poisoned with something mixed with his tea. He didn’t drink anything else this morning, ”she said on Twitter. According to her, he seemed “perfectly fine” in the morning in Tomsk but “immediately after take-off he lost consciousness”.
The main opponent of the Kremlin, whose posts denouncing the corruption of Russian elites are widely shared on social media, Alexei Navalny has been the victim of physical attacks in the past. In 2017, he was sprayed with an antiseptic product in his eyes when leaving his office in Moscow.
In July 2019, while serving a short prison sentence, he also claimed to have been “poisoned” by an “unknown chemical substance”. The authorities had mentioned an “allergic reaction” and assured that they had found “no toxic substances”.
“Something mixed with his tea”
Anatoly Kalinichenko said the opponent’s condition was “stable” and stressed that it was too early to confirm the poisoning thesis.
Through its spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin said to wish Alexei Navalny, “like any Russian citizen”, a “speedy recovery”
Police and members of the Investigative Committee, responsible for the most important criminal cases, arrived at Omsk hospital, Kira Iarmych said, adding that they had asked to see her personal belongings.
Vyacheslav Guimadi, legal director of Mr Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Fund (FBK), wrote on Twitter that there was “no doubt that Navalny was poisoned for his activities and political positions. “.
He called for an investigation into “attempted murder of a public figure”. Alexei Navalny was in Tomsk for his work, Ms. Iarmych told Echo Moscow.
Many opponents of the Kremlin have been the victims of poisoning in recent years, in Russia and abroad. In March 2018, a former double agent and his daughter Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found lifeless on a bench in a small town in southern England.
London had found poisoning from a Soviet-era nerve agent, pointing fingers at Moscow, which sparked a diplomatic crisis between the two capitals.
In 2006, a former Russian secret agent in exile, Alexander Litvinienko, died of poisoning with polonium-210, a highly toxic radioactive substance. London had also concluded that Moscow was guilty.
Several Russian opponents who have also been hospitalized have denounced poisonings in recent years. Each time, the Russian authorities have denied any responsibility.
Long history of poisonings
A witness posted on Instagram the photo of Alexei Navalny drinking from a cardboard cup in an airport cafe and the Ren TV channel broadcast an amateur video shot on the plane where the lawyer and opponent was transferred to a stretcher to an ambulance.
Alexei Navalny is currently traveling across Russia to promote his electoral strategy for the regional elections due to take place in around 30 regions in September. He has visited several cities to promote opposition candidates.
“The ruling party has a lot of money, we can only count on the help of honest and good people,” he wrote on Instagram on Wednesday, a text accompanied by a photo taken in the street with young people. from Tomsk.
He also spoke in favor of the demonstrators in Belarus.
Alexei Navalny and his organization, the Anti-Corruption Fund, whose assets were frozen last year, are regularly the target of searches and fines while his supporters are regularly arrested.
He himself has been sentenced to short prison terms on several occasions, including for organizing unauthorized protests.