The SUN: Putin foe Alexei Navalny poisoned with substance so deadly it could kill anyone who goes near him, cops reveal

VLADIMIR Putin critic Alexei Navalny was poisoned with a substance so deadly it can kill anyone who goes near him, Russian cops have revealed.

The anti-corruption campaigner, 44, is fighting for his life in a coma after his tea was allegedly spiked with a toxic substance at Tomsk airport in Siberia.

Law enforcement insiders have told Navalny’s team he was attacked with a “deadly dangerous” poison.

Aide Ivan Zhdanov said the substance poses a threat to anyone in close contact with the lawyer.

He added: “Everyone around should be in protective suits.”

Dr Anastasia Vasilyeva, Navalny’s personal medic,  tweeted: “The transport police found a very dangerous substance in him.”

However, she did not give its name.

Everyone around should be in protective suits.

Ivan Zhdanov

Navalny’s camp want the campaigner transferred out of Russia to a hospital in Germany for treatment as toxicity testing as soon as possible.

However, doctors claim it’s too dangerous for him to be transferred and he must stay under their supervision.

Navalny’s press secretary Kira Yarmysh claimed the Kremlin had blocked the transfer.

She told reporters: “It is deadly to remain in the Omsk hospital without equipment and without a diagnosis in the current situation.”

She warned: “Navalny’s life now depends on the fact that the chief physician of the intensive care unit has refused to ‘bear responsibility’.

“The ban on the transportation of Navalny is an attempt on his life, which is being carried out right now by doctors and the deceitful authorities that have authorized it.”

Alexander Murakovsky, Chief doctor at the hospital in Omsk,  said tests were still underway and would take two more days.

He added: “We cannot allow for the patient to be transported even under the responsibility of relatives unless the patient’s clinical condition is stable.

“His current state causes our concern in relation to transportation.”

Dr Murakovsky has since said that all tests so far have shown no traces of poison in Navalny’s blood or urine.

Medics do not believe the campaigner was posoined at this stage, he added.

MISSING WAITER

It has since emerged that the waiter who served Navalny his “poisoned” tea has mysteriously vanished.

The lawyer was heard screaming in agony as he fell seriously ill on a flight to Moscow on Thursday.

Video shows fierce Kremlin foe Navalny being stretchered from the aircraft to a waiting ambulance in the Siberian city of Omsk.

He was unconscious, according to his press secretary, Kira Yarmysh, who suspects poison was added to his tea.

He was rushed to hospital with an initial diagnosis of “toxic poisoning”.

Earlier Navalny was snapped drinking from a cup at Vienna Cafe at Tomsk Airport before catching his flight.

The cafe’s owners earlier said they were checking CCTV to find out what had happened, Interfax news agency said.

But the manager of the cafe has now said the staff member who served the opposition leader could not now be found.

The cafe had closed and an investigation was underway, she said.

The alleged poisioning comes two years after the novichock attack on ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 67, and his 34-year-old daughter Yulia, by Putin-backed GRU agents in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

And it comes 14 years after Alexander Litvinenko – another ex-spy turned Putin critic – died after his tea was poisoned with radioactive polonium-210 in London.

Doctors say the toxin was absorbed faster through the hot liquid. Alexey is now unconscious.

Kira YarmyshNavalny Spokesperson

Navalny is now in a coma and has been put on a ventilator after reportedly suffering from a stroke.

Ms Yarmysh posted from his ambulance: “We assume that Alexei was poisoned with something mixed into the tea.

“It was the only thing that he drank in the morning.

“Doctors say the toxin was absorbed faster through the hot liquid.

“Alexey is now unconscious.”

She said: “This morning Navalny was returning to Moscow from Tomsk.

“On the flight he started feeling ill.

“The plane made an emergency landing in Omsk.”

Alexander Murakhovsky, the chief doctor treating Navalny, said his condition was “grave”.

It was later reported that Navalny was in intensive care and had regained consciousness but was “struggling to speak”.

Kseniya Fadeeva, a member of Navalny’s team in Tomsk, said: “He was completely fine before he drank tea at Tomsk airport.”

The Kremlin said that if poisoning was confirmed then an investigation would be launched.

“First we need to wait for the final test results that will help doctors determine what happened, what caused this situation, what caused him to lose consciousness,” said Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

If poisoning took place “there will be an investigation”, said the official.

“Of course, if the life of a Russian citizen is under threat, the situation is serious.

“Both doctors and the law enforcement treat all citizens equally as seriously.”

He was completely fine before he drank tea at Tomsk airport.

Kseniya Fadeeva

Ms Yarmysh added that after the plane took off from Tomsk, the lawyer “said that he was feeling unwell and asked me for a napkin, he was sweating.

“He asked me to speak to him because he needed to concentrate on the sound of the voice.

“I was talking to him, then they brought a trolley with water.

“I asked if water would help, he said no.

“Then he went to the toilet, and after that he fainted.”

‘SCREAMING FROM PAIN’

A passenger on the flight said he heard Navalny “screaming from pain”.

Tomsk blogger Pavel Lebedev said: “I was flying with Alexei Navalny to Moscow.

“At the beginning of the flight he went to the toilet and didn’t come back.

“He was feeling very unwell.

“He is still screaming from pain.

“No-one is explaining what exactly is the problem with him.”

He went on: “They landed us in Omsk, an ambulance came.”

His wife was turned away by doctors yesterday after flying three-and-a-half hours from Moscow to be at his side, it’s claimed.

Navalny’s press secretary Kira Yarmysh tweeted a photo apparently showing Yulia Navalnaya, 44, speaking to doctors in the hospital corridor.

She wrote: “Yulia Navalnaya is also here. She is also not allowed in because ‘the patient did not agree to visit’. That’s what they say.”

The claims have not yet been officially confirmed.

This is not the first time Navalny has been struck down in mysterious circumstances.

The leader of the Russian opposition Progress Party was hospitalised after developing an acute “mystery allergy” a day after mass protests in Moscow in July last year.

It came while Navalny was serving a 30-day jail sentence for calling for an unauthorised demonstration.

The politician is seen as Putin’s most charismatic and potentially dangerous foe.

He famously described Putin’s ruling party, United Russia, as a “party of crooks and thieves” and labelled elections “rigged”.

Navalny has faced constant legal attacks and has served a number of jail sentences.

But he has refused to be cowed by intimidation, which peaked with the 2015 murder of his ally Boris Nemtsov – rumoured by many to be linked to the Kremlin.

In the days following Nemtsov’s killing, Navalny declared: “I am not frightened and I am sure my associates are not frightened either.

“There will be no let-up in our efforts, we will give up nothing.

“This act of terror has not achieved its goal in this sense.”

His anti-corruption organisation was dubbed a “foreign agent” by the Russian authorities.

Police have conducted repeated raids on his offices.

Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko has blamed Navalny for fomenting the protests in his country, but without providing proof.

Navalny has vowed his aim is to topple Putin and replace him as president.

Trained as a lawyer, his activism first began when he purchased stocks of five oil and gas companies in 2008.

This enabled him to probe their finances and advocate for greater transparency behind the companies and their oligarch benefactors’ finances.

He has also used YouTube and blogs to keep his supporters informed – thereby bypassing the Kremlin’s tight controls over the country’s media outlets.

Kremlin critics have a habit of mysteriously dying or being poisoned by shady assassins.

Mark Galeotti, a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, told FP: “One of poison’s great virtues for the politically minded murderer is their capacity to combine easy deniability and vicious theatricality.

“Even while the murderer denies any role, perhaps with a sly wink, the victim dies a horrific and often lengthy death. A message in a poison bottle.”

Source – The SUN