Putin’s Political Opponent Alexei Navalny Allegedly Poisoned

President of Russia Vladimir Putin. Photo: Kremlin
President of Russia Vladimir Putin. Photo: Kremlin

The possibility of an attempt on Navalny’s life cannot be ruled out because a number of Kremlin critics have been poisoned or killed during Putin’s 20 years in power.

By Rakesh Raman

Alexei Navalny, a Moscow-based anti-corruption campaigner and Russia’s main opposition leader, has been admitted to a Siberian hospital as his condition continues to be critical.

Navalny, 44, who is a vocal political opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, lost consciousness on a flight to Moscow and his plane made an emergency landing.

Although the real cause of his sickness is not yet known, according to reports, his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh believes that Navalny has been poisoned as “something” was mixed in his tea. He was kept on a ventilator and his treatment is under way.

Recently, Navalny had declared that with the help of his supporters he will hold “street protests” against Putin after the coronavirus pandemic – possibly in the autumn.

“What Putin fears most is the street,” said Navalny. “He (Putin) will not leave until we start to take to the streets in the hundreds of thousands and in the millions,” Reuters had quoted Navalny.

In July, thousands of people protested in Russia’s Far East to express their opposition to Putin. Defying social-distancing norms and without wearing masks during the coronavirus pandemic, the protesters in Russia’s vast hinterland chanted “Putin Resign” slogans.

Navalny had cheered the protests in the Far East, hailing the street demonstration in Khabarovsk as the “biggest in the city’s history.”

The protests were held in response to a dubious poll held on July 1 to accept constitutional changes that will allow Putin to stay in power until 2036. Navalny refused to accept the results of the voting, saying that it was an illegitimate vote designed to legalize Putin’s presidency for life.

In 2018, Putin had won the presidential election to lead Russia for his second 6-year term. Putin has ruled the country as either President or Prime Minister since 1999. In 2018 election, according to official results, he got more than 76% of the votes with an increase of 12% from his 2012 performance.

Putin’s nearest competitor Pavel Grudinin received just 12% of total votes and Navalny, who was planning to challenge Putin in the election, was barred from the race.

It is the second time Navalny has allegedly been poisoned. In 2019 also when he had given a call for street protests against Putin, he was hospitalized with severe sickness.

The possibility of an attempt on his life cannot be ruled out because a number of Kremlin critics have been poisoned or killed during Putin’s 20 years in power.

Boris Nemtsov, a former Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, was shot dead in 2015 in Moscow soon after announcing a rally to oppose the Putin-supported war with Ukraine.

In 2018, the United Kingdom had alleged that Russia was behind an attack using a deadly nerve-agent in Salisbury. The attack left Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, hospitalized in critical condition. Russia had rejected the allegations.

Skripal is a former Russian military intelligence officer who acted as a double agent for the UK’s intelligence services during the 1990s and early 2000s.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society. He also creates and publishes a number of digital publications and research reports on different subjects. These publications include the “Covid Health Bulletin” that covers global coronavirus news and views.

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