Reports late last week confirmed that Alexei Navalny, a well-known critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, had suddenly fallen gravely ill.
According to a new BBC report, the evidence supports rumors that circulated in the immediate aftermath of the news by confirming that the cause of his illness was likely poisoning.
A series of suspicious incidents
Navalny has a long record of sustaining attacks apparently associated with his consistent protests against Putin.
In 2017, a critic splashed him with green dye. Two years later, he landed behind bars for 30 days over charges of organizing an unauthorized demonstration.
While in jail during that period, he also fell ill. Doctors suspected that he had been given “some toxic agent.”
Navalny’s offices were raided by Russian security forces in December 2017 and his organization was deemed a “foreign agent” by the nation’s government. In other words, he was already on Putin’s radar, which could be a dangerous place to be.
His most recent illness came during a flight from Tomsk to Moscow. Pilots were forced to make an emergency landing in Omsk and Navalny was immediately taken to a hospital.
“Do so in full transparency”
While an initial examination reportedly showed no evidence of a toxin, a subsequent test at the Charite Hospital in Germany found something entirely different. That report determined that “clinical evidence suggests an intoxication through a substance belonging to the group of cholinesterase inhibitor.”
In a subsequent statement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for an investigation.
“In light of the prominent role played by Mr. Navalny in the political opposition in Russia, the authorities there are now urgently called upon to investigate this crime to the last detail – and do so in full transparency,” they said.
For its part, the Kremlin is denying Putin’s involvement in any alleged poisoning through a statement by spokesman Dmitri Peskov, who called such claims “empty noise” that “can in no way be true.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is among the other Western leaders who support a probe into the circumstances surrounding Navalny’s illness. As the Putin critic remains in a coma, freedom lovers around the world are wishing him not only a physical recovery, but some sense of justice through a fair investigation.