Alexei Navalny, the man considered one of the main detractors of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the country, was poisoned during a flight from Siberia to Moscow and has since been hospitalized, according to reports.
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Arkady Ostrovsky, editor of The Economist magazine for Russia, said the plane made an emergency landing midway through the flight, citing Navalny’s press secretary.
The Kremlin did not immediately issue a statement. The Daily Beast reported that Kira Yarmish, Navalny’s press secretary, said he was poisoned by some kind of toxin and was unconscious.
“We assume Alexei was poisoned with something mixed with his tea. It was the only thing he drank this morning. Doctors say the toxin was absorbed faster because of the hot liquid. At the moment, Alexei is unconscious, ”she said, according to the report.
Russian authorities recently opened criminal proceedings against Navalny for allegedly slandering a World War II veteran. The case announced by the commission of inquiry on Monday stems from comments Navalny posted on social media about a video broadcast by Kremlin-backed RT television.
In it, several prominent Russians vote in favor of the July 1 referendum on constitutional reform that would allow Putin to run for two more terms. Among those featured was Ignat Artemenko, a 93-year-old WWII veteran.
Navalny’s post criticized the people in the video as being “without conscience”. The case against Navalny says the comments were “false information discrediting the honor and dignity of a veteran of the Great Patriotic War.”
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If found guilty, Navalny could face a fine of up to a year of income or 240 hours of community service.
The Associated Press contributed to this report