Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny is fighting for life in a Siberian hospital after suspected poisoning.
His spokeswoman on Thursday said Navalny was suffering symptoms of what she believed was a deliberate poisoning.
Navalny, 44, is a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin and Moscow’s political elite.
He was rushed to a hospital in Omsk city after he lost consciousness while on a flight to Moscow from the Siberian city of Tomsk and his plane made an emergency landing.
The prominent lawyer and anti-corruption campaigner was placed in a coma on a ventilator, his spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, said on social media.
The head doctor at an Omsk hospital confirmed that Navalny had been admitted at the facility and he was in a serious condition.
Tatyana Shakirova, a spokeswoman for the regional health ministry in Omsk, said doctors were doing “everything possible to stabilize” the condition of the opposition politician. She also said that it was “serious” situation.
But she said that “the poisoning version is one of several versions being considered”. “It’s not possible now to say what the reason was.”
A Kremlin spokesperson said the Russian presidency wished the opposition leader a “speedy recovery”.
Details of Suspected Poisoning of Alexei Navalny
“We assume that Alexei was poisoned with something mixed into his tea. It was the only thing that he drank in the morning. Doctors say the toxin was absorbed faster through the hot liquid. Alexei is now unconscious,” Yarmysh said in a social media post.
“Doctors say the poison was quickly absorbed through the hot liquid,” she tweeted.
Navalny had drunk a cup of tea at a Tomsk airport cafe before boarding his flight, Yarmysh said.
The Interfax news agency quoted the cafe’s owners as saying they were checking CCTV cameras to try to understand what had happened.
Yarmysh told the Echo Moskvy radio station that Navalny was sweating on the plane and asked her to talk to him so that he could “focus on the sound of a voice”.
He then went to the toilet and lost consciousness.
“Alexei is still unconscious. He was put under ventilator. Police were called to the hospital on our demand,” said Yarmysh.
Anatoliy Kalinichenko, deputy chief doctor of the hospital, told reporters that Navalny was in grave, yet stable condition.
Kalinichenko said doctors are considering a variety of diagnoses, including poisoning, but he refused to give details, citing a law preventing doctors from disclosing confidential patient information.
Kremlin’s History of Poisoning Foes
There is a long history of Russian government foes being poisoned or falling ill after suspected poisonings.
They include Alexander Litvinenko, who died in London in 2006 after drinking tea laced with polonium-210.
Sergei Skripal, a former double agent, was also poisoned with a nerve agent in 2018 in Salisbury, England.
Kremlin has repeatedly denied involvement in all such incidents, dismissing them as anti-Russia propaganda.