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Russia dismisses calls for investigation into opposition leader’s alleged poisoning

Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader, is in a coma after allegedly being poisoned. But, it is worth wondering if there is something more sinister brewing…like the tea Navalny consumed the morning he fell sick.

Mr. Navalny was returning to Moscow on a flight from Tomsk on Thursday when he lost consciousness and collapsed in the plane's lavatory.

Kira Yarmysh, his spokeswoman, said that she suspected Mr. Navalny had been poisoned by something that was mixed into his tea at the airport. She said, “It was the only thing he drank all morning. Doctors said that the toxin was absorbed more quickly through hot liquid.”

The plane made an emergency landing in the nearby city of Omsk, where Mr. Navalny was taken to a hospital and placed on a respirator. He was treated in Siberia for three days before being transferred to the Charité hospital in Berlin.

It was here that doctors said, "clinical evidence suggests an intoxication through a substance belonging to the group of cholinesterase inhibitors.”

Cholinesterase inhibitors are a group of chemicals, that interfere with the nervous system. They are used to treat Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia; some forms are also found in chemical weapons and pesticides.

Baza, a news channel on messaging app Telegram, claimed that Alexei had been poisoned with GHB, a date-rape drug. Russian newswire Interfax cited an “informed source” who claimed that Navalny had been poisoned with an “unknown psychedelic”. However, the German doctors still haven't been able to identify the exact poison.

In addition, poisoning seems to be a known method used by the Russian special forces to silence prominent dissidents. In 2018, the publisher of a news site, Mediazona Petr Verzilov, spent a month in intensive care after an unknown toxin cost him his ability to speak and much of his sight.

Navalny’s wife, spokeswoman, and the personal doctor claimed that Russian authorities endangered the opposition leader’s life by delaying his evacuation from Siberia so that the poison could metabolize and make it more difficult to recognize.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russian authorities will launch an investigation if Navalny’s poisoning diagnosis is confirmed. “These accusations can in no way be true”, said Peskov during a regular conference call with journalists.

Kremlin has rejected accusations that President Vladimir Putin authorized the poisoning of critic Alexei Navalny. In fact, that dismisses the idea that he was poisoned all together.

Doctors at the Siberian hospital that treated Alexei said that the laboratory results showed no signs of poisoning, and the hospital’s head doctor pointed to a metabolic disorder caused by low blood sugar as the most likely cause.

“Navalny will survive poison attack, but be incapacitated for months as a politician,” said Bizilj, the head of the Cinema for Peace foundation that brought Navalny to Berlin’s Charité hospital.

While conspiracies regarding Navalny’s illness seem to be running amok, it is worth mentioning that on the day of his alleged poisoning, he met a group of young supporters in private and answered a familiar question: why aren’t you dead?

That is an unsurprising but almost prophetic question. Furthermore, it is proof that there isn’t much hope left for the dissidents of Russia.

Reporter: Ananya Sreekumar

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