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Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny put on Germany-bound flight

Alexei Navalny, the gravely-ill critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is in a coma after drinking what his aides believe was poisoned tea.

August 22, 2020 / 08:14 AM IST
File image of Alexei Navalny (Reuters)

File image of Alexei Navalny (Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s critic and opposition politician Alexei Navalny has been put on an aircraft set to take him to Germany for medical care, his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said on Twitter on August 22.

Navalny, the gravely ill Kremlin critic, is in a coma after drinking what his aides believe was poisoned tea.

On August 21, Navalny’s allies had accused Russian authorities of trying to stop his evacuation to Germany for medical care. However, later in the day, Russian medics agreed to allow Navalny’s medical evacuation from a Siberian hospital at his relatives' request.

On August 20, Yarmysh had announced that Navalny is in a serious condition after suffering severe symptoms of what she said she believed was deliberate poisoning.

Also read | Don’t drink the tea: Poison is a favoured weapon in Russia

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Navalny, a fierce critic of Putin, started feeling ill while returning to capital Moscow from Siberia’s Tomsk on August 19. His aircraft had made an emergency landing in Omsk so that he could be rushed to a hospital. Before boarding the flight, Navalny had drunk tea at a cafe at the Tomsk airport.

"We assume that Alexei was poisoned with something mixed into his tea. It was the only thing that he drank in the morning. Doctors say the toxin was absorbed faster through the hot liquid. Alexei is now unconscious," Yarmysh said.

Navalny is a lawyer and anti-corruption activist and has served several stints in jail in recent years for organising protests against Putin’s government.

The 44-year-old has helped release investigations into what he has said are outrageous examples of official corruption.

Russia will be heading for regional elections in September. Navalny and his allies have been preparing for these polls and trying to get support for candidates they back.

(With inputs from Reuters)
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first published: Aug 22, 2020 08:14 am
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