Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is currently unconscious in hospital after suffering from a suspected poisoning, his spokesperson has said
Alexei Navalny the anti-corruption campaigner became ill during a flight in which the plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Omsk, Kira Yarmysh said, adding that they suspected a substance had been mixed into his drink.
The hospital said that Mr Navalny was in a stable but serious condition.
The Russian opposition leader, who is 44, is a staunch critic of the current President, Vladimir Putin.
This news follows UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told Members of Parliaments that there was “no smoking gun” in the now-released Russia report, as opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer claimed that the Prime Minister “sat on” the “extremely serious” report.
In June Alexei Navalny had described a vote on constitutional reforms as a “coup” and a “violation of the constitution”. These reforms would allow Mr Putin to serve a further two terms in office.
This comes after it was announced back in March that the President of Russia could remain in power until 2036. Vladimir Putin is required by the constitution to step down from the role of President in 2024 after the end of his second sequential presidential term, but that could soon be changing.
Kira Yarmysh, the press secretary for the Anti-Corruption Foundation, which Mr Navalny founded in 2011, tweeted: “This morning Navalny was returning to Moscow from Tomsk.”
“During the flight, he felt ill. The plane made an urgent landing in Omsk. Alexei has toxic poisoning.”
“We suspect that Alexei was poisoned by something mixed into [his] tea. It was the only thing he drank since morning.”
“Doctors are saying that the toxic agent absorbed faster through the hot liquid. Right now Alexei is unconscious.”
The Tass news agency quoted one source at the Omsk Emergency Hospital as saying: “Alexei Anatolyevich Navalny, born in 1976. Poisoning intensive care.”
However, the deputy head physician of the hospital that Navalny is staying at later told the press that the hospital was not certain Mr Navalny had been poisoned, although “natural poisoning” was one of the diagnoses being considered.
Passenger Pavel Lebedev said: “At the start of the flight he went to the toilet and didn’t come back. He started feeling really sick. They struggled to bring him round and he was screaming in pain.”
Mr Navalny had previously been given a 30-day jail term in July of 2019 after he called for protests that were unauthorised by the government.
The opposition leader was taken ill amid that jail term. Doctors diagnosed him with “contact dermatitis” but he said that he had never previously had any acute allergic reactions and that his own doctor suggested he may have been exposed to a form of “some toxic agent”. Alexei Navalny also said that he thought he could have been poisoned.
Mr Navalny also suffered from serious chemical burning in his right eye in 2017 after he was assaulted with antiseptic dye.