Alexei Navalny Sick With Possible Slow Poisoning

Spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said a mystery stomach illness afflicts the opposition leader
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2023 8:37 AM CDT
Putin Foe Alexei Navalny Is Sick From Possible Poisoning
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is seen on a TV screen, as he appears in a video link provided by the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service in a courtroom of the Second Cassation Court of General Jurisdiction in Moscow, Russia.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is in a maximum-security prison and in just two weeks' time has lost 18 pounds, reports Reuters. Spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said Navalny is suffering from a mystery ailment that could be a slow-acting poison. In a series of tweets, Yarmysh said that when Navalny asks for a diagnosis, "the prison doctor mockingly answers that it is 'just spring and everyone has exacerbations.'" She continued to say that Navalny's advocates "do not rule out" that he may have been poisoned with something during "all this time in prison" that could be making his health "deteriorate slowly but steadily."

Navalny is Russia’s most well-known and vocal Kremlin critic and he is being held in Penal Colony No. 2 east of Moscow, reports the New York Times. He says he has been repeatedly placed in punishment cells for trivial misdemeanors and has complained about conditions in the prison and lack of access to proper medical care. Concerns about Navalny's health have grown in recent months, leading to rare, public petitions from groups of Russian lawyers, doctors, and lawmakers who, despite risking prosecution for dissent, have used their names to ask that he receives improved medical care. As Reuters notes, Navalny supporters see him as akin to Nelson Mandela, destined to lead Russia once he is free from prison.

Russian authorities, however, consider Navalny—and his supporters—as extremists with links to the CIA, bent on destabilizing Russia. His movement has been banned, and numerous supporters have fled the country. There is precedent for believing Navalny has been poisoned: Three years ago, he survived an apparent attempted poisoning that occurred on a flight over Siberia. That incident involved a nerve agent that was ultimately identified by lab tests, per Reuters. The government denied the accusation, but Navalny accused the Russian state of orchestrating an assassination attempt. (More Alexei Navalny stories.)

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