“Poisoned” Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is a fierce critic of Putin
Before he finds himself fighting for his life after a suspected poisoningKremlin critic Alexei Navalny was traveling across Siberia to urge Russians to vote against Vladimir Putin’s cronies in the upcoming local elections.
Navalny, 44, openly denounced Putin as “the czar of corruption” and called the Russian leader’s party a group of “crooks and thieves”.
The lawyer and anti-corruption activist, who has been described as Putin’s fiercest enemy, has been so outspoken in recent weeks that most people he has met have wondered how he managed to stay in the game. life that long.
On Saturday, Navalny, who is extremely popular in Russia with 2.2 million Twitter followers, was airlifted to a Berlin hospital to be treated for suspected poisoning.
He fell ill Thursday after drinking tea at a Russian airport, then collapsed on a flight over Siberia. Russian doctors who treated him in the Siberian capital of Omsk rejected the hypothesis of poisoning and said he suffered from a “metabolic disorder”.
There followed 24 tense hours of quarrels between the Russian and German governments to allow his evacuation to Berlin, paid for by a German non-profit association.
His critics feared the delay was a ploy to delay his treatment until the poison had left his body. The Kremlin rejected the request and authorized his transfer to the German hospital on Friday. Doctors at Charité Hospital have placed Navalny in an induced coma in order to stop his seizures, according to reports.
“He is one of the most effective, prominent and frankly most dangerous political opponents of the Putin regime,” said Vladimir Kara-Murza, Russian journalist and opposition activist, in an interview with The Sunday Times of London.
Like many other opposition leaders, Kara-Murza, who has pushed for economic sanctions against Russian officials, said he was the victim of poisoning by Russian officials. He said he survived two attempts in 2015 and 2017. The first time he suffered from kidney failure and the second time he was placed in an induced coma.
Opposition members say Navalny’s popularity, especially with young people, is the biggest threat to Putin, who faces a wave of protests in Siberia and Belarus on the country’s western border. If anyone could lead a mass uprising against Putin, it would be Navalny, Kara-Murza said.
Navalny’s anti-corruption YouTube videos, in which he flies drones over the lavish homes of Russia‘s elite to expose their lavish lifestyles, have become internet hits in Russia. When Navalny was arrested in 2012, thousands took to the streets to demand his release. They are expected to act with even more anger if he dies as a martyr for the cause of the opposition, according to Kremlin critics.
When asked if he was concerned that Putin would launch direct attacks against him, Navalny said he didn’t think the Russian leader would be so obvious.
“I don’t think Putin would say directly to someone, ‘Please meet Navalny outside his office and throw toxic liquid in his face,'” he recently told the Sunday Times in London. “They would have had a meeting and said, ‘We should put pressure on him, make him uncomfortable.’ People can read the clues.
In Russia, the authorities gave these “clues” even before Navalny boarded his flight to Germany. Russian police cracked down on other opposition to Putin in the country on Friday.
A member of the feminist protest group Pussy Riot tweeted that authorities tried to arrest them in Norilsk, an industrial town above the Arctic Circle.
“It’s very disturbing. They are clearly trying to intimidate us all, ”the activist group’s tweet said.