Opposition politician may have been poisoned by toxic substance in his tea, says press secretary
The Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny is in a coma and on a ventilator in a hospital intensive care unit after a suspected poisoning.
“We assume that Alexei was poisoned with something mixed into his tea,” his press secretary, Kira Yarmysh, tweeted. “That was the only thing he drank this morning. The doctors say that the toxin was absorbed more quickly because of the hot liquid. Right now Alexei is unconscious.”
An outspoken critic of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, Navalny was returning to Moscow by plane from Tomsk in Siberia when he began to feel ill. The plane made an emergency landing in Omsk and he was taken to hospital. A mobile video shot on the plane showed medical personnel rushing onboard as a man screamed in agony.
Doctors “are currently engaged in the process of saving his life”, said Anatoly Kalinichenko, the deputy head of the hospital where the 44-year-old is being treated. Navalny was unconscious and on a ventilator, Kalinichenko told journalists. He described the opposition leader’s condition as “stable”, declining to give further details.
Even as he lay in a coma in hospital, there were signs of pressure on the opposition leader’s family members and political allies. Navalny’s civil wife and a personal doctor had been barred from visiting him by hospital officials because Navalny, though unconscious, had not given them permission, Yarmysh said.