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Putin-critic Navalny in coma, aides say poisoned

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is in a coma and breathing with the aid of an artificial lung ventilator, after drinking tea his spokeswoman said was laced with poison.

He was admitted to a Siberian hospital on Thursday (August 20), and doctors have not ruled out that possibility.

Anatoly Kalinchenko is the deputy head doctor of the hospital treating Navalny.

"Naturally poisoning is considered as one of the possible reasons of the deterioration in the condition. But, besides that, there could be a number of acute states that lead to the same clinical signs. We are working on everything."

Navalny's spokeswoman said he started feeling ill when flying back to Moscow a day earlier.

He reportedly drank tea at a cafe at Tomsk airport before boarding his flight, which made an emergency landing so that he could be rushed to hospital. The police were also called.

She did not speculate about who may have poisoned Navalny, only that she thought it was deliberate.

Navalny, a lawyer and anti-corruption activist, is a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin and has served several stints in jail.

He and his allies had been busy preparing for Russia's regional elections next month, trying to increase support for specific candidates.

There is a long history of Kremlin foes being poisoned or falling ill after suspected poisonings.

They include Alexander Litvinenko, who died in London in 2006 after drinking poisoned tea,

and Sergei Skripal, a former double agent who was poisoned with a nerve agent in 2018 in Salisbury, England.

The Kremlin has denied involvement in those and other incidents.

Video Transcript

- Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is in a coma and breathing with the aid of an artificial lung ventilator, after drinking tea his spokeswoman said was laced with poison. He was admitted to a Siberian hospital on Thursday, and doctors have not ruled out that possibility. Anatoly Kalinchenko is the deputy head doctor of the hospital treating Navalny.

ANATOLY KALINCHENKO: [RUSSIAN SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: Naturally, poisoning is considered as one of the possible reasons of the deterioration in the condition. But besides that, there could be a number of acute states that lead to the same clinical signs. We are working on everything.

- Navalny's spokeswoman said he started feeling ill when flying back to Moscow a day earlier. He reportedly drank tea at a cafe in Tomsk Airport before boarding his flight, which made an emergency landing so that he could be rushed to hospital. The police were also called. She did not speculate about who may have poisoned Navalny, only that she thought it was deliberate.

Navalny, a lawyer and anti-corruption activist, is a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin and has served several stints in jail. He and his allies have been busy preparing for Russia's regional elections next month, trying to increase support for specific candidates. There is a long history of Kremlin foes being poisoned or falling ill after suspected poisonings. They include Sergei Skripal, a former double agent who was poisoned with a nerve agent in 2018 in Salisbury, England. The Kremlin has denied involvement in those and other incidents.