Did Putin order a hit on nemesis Alexei Navalny? Activist fighting for life ‘after drinking poisoned tea'
Russian President Vladimir Putin's critic, Alexei Navalny, is reportedly fighting for his life in a hospital and is in a coma after allegedly drinking poison-laced tea at the airport. The incident occurred when Navalny, a 44-year-old opposition leader, was on a flight to Moscow on Thursday, August 20, and began screaming in agony and fell seriously ill.
A video taken post the incident showed Navalny being taken on a stretcher from the aircraft to an ambulance awaiting him in Omsk, Siberia. According to his press secretary, Kira Yarmysh, Navalny was unconscious and she suspects that his tea was poisoned. After an initial diagnosis of "toxic poisoning," he was rushed to the hospital. Navalny, earlier in the day, was pictured drinking from a cup at a cafe at Tomsk airport before catching his flight, the Sun reported.
Who is Alexei Navalny
Navalny, the leader of the Russian opposition Progress Party, has also been hospitalized previously under mysterious circumstances. The politician is considered the most charismatic and potentially dangerous foe of Russian President Putin. The politician, once, famously described United Russia, Putin's ruling party, as a "party of crooks and thieves" and deemed the elections which led to Putin's victory as "rigged." There have multiple attempts of intimidation but the lawyer has refused to cow down. The 44-year-old consistently faces legal attacks and has served multiple prison sentences under Putin's regime. Russian authorities have also called Navalny's anti-corruption organization a "foreign agent," and police have conducted frequent raids on his offices over the years.
The incident comes nearly two years after the nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 67, ad his daughter Yulia, 34, by Putin-backed GRU agents in Salisbury, Wiltshire. The father-daughter duo was in a critical condition after the attack but eventually recovered. The alleged poisoning also comes nearly 14 years after a former spy turned Putin critic, Alexander Litvinenko, died after his tea was laced with radioactive polonium-210 in London.
Where is he now
The latest reports state that Navalny has been put on a ventilator after he reportedly suffered a stroke and fell into a coma and he's currently in Omsk Ambulance Hospital No 1. Yarmysh, in a statement from his ambulance, said, "We assume that Alexei was poisoned with something mixed into the tea."
"It was the only thing that he drank in the morning," she said. "Doctors say the toxin was absorbed faster through the hot liquid. Alexey is now unconscious. This morning Navalny was returning to Moscow from Tomsk. On the flight he started feeling ill. The plane made an emergency landing in Omsk.”
Yarmysh added that shortly after the plane took off from Tomsk, the lawyer said that "he was feeling unwell and asked me for a napkin, he was sweating. He asked me to speak to him because he needed to concentrate on the sound of the voice. I was talking to him, then they brought a trolley with water. I asked if water would help, he said no. Then he went to the toilet, and after that he fainted." A passenger on the flight reportedly heard Navalny "screaming from pain".
The chief doctor treating Navalny, Alexander Murakhovsky, said that the 44-year-old's condition is "grave." Kseniya Fadeeva, a member of Navalny’s team in Tomsk, said: “He was completely fine before he drank tea at Tomsk airport." It was later reported that Navalny was being kept in intensive care and has regained consciousness, however, he was "struggling to speak."
The lawyer, last year in July, had also developed an acute "mystery allergy" just a day after mass protests in Moscow. His illness came while he was serving a 30-day prison sentence for calling an unauthorized demonstration, reports state.