Putin's top critic is permitted to leave Russia after suspected poisoning
- Russian President Vladimir Putin's top opponent, Alexei Navalny, is being allowed to leave Russia.
- Navalny fell gravely ill on Thursday and his team suspects that he was poisoned.
- Initially, authorities blocked Navalny from being transferred — claiming he fell into a coma due to low blood sugar — but he will now be flown to a German medical facility.
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Alexei Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin's most prominent opponent, is being permitted to leave Russia, the Associated Press reported on Friday.
Navalny, who is in a coma after a suspected poisoning, is being transferred to a top German medical facility. Initially, authorities refused requests for Navalny to be flown to Germany for treatment, prompting uproar from the anti-corruption campaigner's team. Doctors at the hospital in Omsk where Navalny was taken after falling gravely ill said it was too dangerous to move him.
German doctors examined Navalny and said he was fit to be transported, the Associated Press reported, and Navalny's physician in Moscow also dismissed the notion it was unsafe to move the politician.
Navalny's team believe he was poisoned by the Kremlin, and contended that the move to block the transfer was designed to ensure any poison in his system would no longer be traceable.
"The ban on transporting Navalny in an attempt on his life being carried out right now by doctors and the deceitful authorities that have authorized it," Kira Yarmysh, Navalny's top aide, said, per the Daily Beast.
Doctors at the Siberian hospital where Navalny was taken for treatment disputed claims the Kremlin critic had been poisoned. The hospital's chief doctor, Alexander Murakhovsky, said the most likely diagnosis was a metabolic disorder and that Navalny probably lost conscious due to a drop in blood sugar. Navalny's wife said doctors at the hospital can't be trusted, CNN said.
And the director of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), Ivan Zhdanov, said police found traces of a dangerous substance in his system but refused to disclose the name of the substance due to the secrecy of the investigation. But the substance is apparently so dangerous that it has the doctors treating Navalny wearing protective clothing, the Daily Beast reported.
Navalny, who campaigned to challenge Putin in 2018 but was prohibited from running, fell ill while on a flight back to Moscow from the Siberian city of Tomsk. His team believes tea Navalny drank before the flight contained poison.
This is not the first time critics and opponents of Putin have been poisoned — nor the first time the poison was believed to be transmitted via tea. In 2006, Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officer who later became a vocal critic of the Kremlin, was killed after ingesting radioactive poison in London. He became ill after allegedly drinking a cup of tea.
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