A Russian politician who frequently is at odds against Russian President Vladimir Putin was stricken after drinking a cup of tea and is now in a coma in the Russian city of Omsk.
Kira Yarmysh, the spokeswoman for opposition politician Alexei Navalny, stated outright that she believed the tea he had consumed while in Siberia had been poisoned.
The 44-year-old Navalny, who was otherwise in good health, began to feel ill as he returned to Moscow from the Siberian city of Tomsk and had to be carried off the airplane on a stretcher after it made an emergency landing in Omsk.
The indefatigable critic of the Russian president is now on a ventilator in an intensive care unit, according to his spokeswoman.
According to a Reuters report, she told the press flatly “We assume that Alexei was poisoned with something mixed into his tea. It was the only thing that he drank in the morning. Alexi is now unconscious.”
In another unsettling development, his physicians gave contradictory information about the politician’s condition, saying it had stabilized but afterward inexplicably stating that there was still a threat to his life and they were working to save him.
This is far from the first time Kremlin critics have mysteriously fallen ill, with those who have spoken out against Russian leaders accusing them of poisonings, sometimes with substances which are never encountered in the course of normal life.
The strapping Alexander Litvinenko, who passed away in great pain in a London hospital in 2006 after having his skin become green, had drunk tea laced with polonium-210. Sergei Skripal, a former double agent for Russia, was poisoned with a nerve agent in 2018 in a restaurant in Salisbury, England while out to eat with his family.
His wife and son had earlier mysteriously died of unknown causes. He and his daughter now live in another location, under new identities.
The Kremlin has always denied involvement in any such incidents, terming them anti-Russian provocations.
Navalny’s spokeswoman did not speculate on who she believed may have poisoned the politician.
Tatyana Shakirova, a regional health ministry spokeswoman, confirmed for the press that Navalny is currently in an Omsk hospital, adding that doctors have stated that his condition is “serious.”
She added “Doctors are doing everything possible to stabilize his condition. The poisoning version is one of several versions being considered. It’s not possible now to say what the reason was.”
Navalny, who recently attended a demonstration protesting the murder of fellow opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, has been sent to jail on multiple occasions for a string of protests against the Russian leadership. He has in the past suffered physical attacks in the street from people who are thought to be pro-government activists, according to Reuters.
His videos on the rampant corruption seen all over Russia have had millions of views.
Fellow air passenger Pavel Lebedev posted what he saw happened to Navalny on social media. As he narrated the video, he stated “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.”
The airline stated that the politician had not eaten or drunk anything while on board the aircraft. According to his spokeswoman, Navalny had drunk a cup of tea at a cafe in the Tomsk airport before boarding his flight.
When speaking to interviewers, Yarmysh recalled an incident last year in which Navalny suffered an acute allergic reaction which one doctor opined could have resulted from being poisoned with an unknown chemical.
“Obviously the same has been done to him now,” Yarmysh declared.