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Russian activist Alexei Navalny in coma after suspected poisoning

Opposition politician may have been poisoned with substance in his tea, says press secretary

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s doctor says he was poisoned – video

The Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is in a coma and on a ventilator in a hospital intensive care unit after a suspected poisoning his supporters believe is tied to his anti-Kremlin activism.

An outspoken critic of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, Navalny was returning to Moscow by plane from Siberia when he fell ill, prompting the captain to make an emergency landing in Omsk, where he was taken to hospital. A mobile video shot on the plane showed medical personnel rushing onboard as Navalny screamed in agony.

The 44-year-old’s press secretary Kira Yarmysh told the Echo of Moscow radio station that Navalny had begun sweating and then lost consciousness shortly after take-off.

“I am sure this was deliberate poisoning,” she said, added that she suspected a cup of black tea he drank at an airport cafe was the source. She tied the alleged poisoning to upcoming elections in the Siberian regions they had visited.

Officials at the emergency care hospital in Omsk where Navalny is being treated gave contradictory information about his condition and have not allowed his family or supporters in to see him. Anatoly Kalinichenko, the deputy chief doctor of the hospital, confirmed that Navalny was unconscious and on a ventilator, but called his condition “stable”. Doctors “are currently engaged in the process of saving his life”, he said on Thursday afternoon.

If confirmed as a poison attack, it would be the latest in a series of high-profile assaults, often with poison, against opposition figures and Russian dissidents that includes the 2018 poisoning of Sergei Skripal and the 2015 shooting death of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov.

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