Alexei Navalny, the main rival and critic of Vladimir Putin, was taken unconscious to hospital after apparently being poisoned.
The lawyer and anti-corruption activist fell ill on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in the Siberian city of Omsk.
The video shows the Navalny being transferred from the plane to a waiting ambulance before being transported to intensive care.
He is now in a coma and on a ventilator, with doctors saying his condition is “serious,” press secretary Kira Yarmysh has revealed.
Alexei Navalny, great political rival and critic of Valdimir Putin, was rushed to hospital after apparently being poisoned (pictured, Navalny being taken in an ambulance)
Navalny’s press secretary Kira Yarmysh says she suspects poison was added to a cup of tea he was pictured drinking at the airport
Yarmysh said she suspected poison had been added to tea he was photographed drinking at the airport, in an image widely shared on social media.
The manager of the Vienna cafe at Tomsk airport, where the image was taken, said the staff member who served Navalny the drink was now nowhere to be found.
The cafe was closed and an investigation was underway, the manager said.
Doctors gave a preliminary diagnosis of “toxic poisoning,” but no test results have yet returned.
Yarmysh posted from his ambulance: “We assume Alexei was poisoned with something mixed in tea. It was the only thing he drank in the morning.
“Doctors say the toxin was absorbed faster by the hot liquid. Alexey is now unconscious.
She added: “This morning Navalny was returning to Moscow from Tomsk. During the flight, he started to feel bad.
“The plane made an emergency landing in Omsk.
Navalny (archive image) was on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow when he suddenly fell ill, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in Omsk
Navalny was unconscious when he was removed from the plane and had to be put on a ventilator. He is now in a coma and doctors say his condition is “serious”
Navalny is seen as Putin’s most charismatic and potentially dangerous enemy.
He has faced constant legal attacks and served several prison terms.
His anti-corruption organization has been called a “foreign agent” by the Russian authorities.
Police have repeatedly raided his offices, and this is not the first time Navalny has suffered a physical attack.
In 2017, he was left partially blind in one eye after attackers threw green dye used as a disinfectant on his face in front of his desk.
In August last year, he suffered from a rash and his face became swollen while in a police detention center for a short time for calling for illegal protests.
He was taken to hospital where doctors said he suffered from an allergic reaction, but Navalny called for an investigation into the poisoning.
“He was poisoned in the police detention center. I’m sure now the same has happened. These are different symptoms, obviously a different drug, ”Yarmysh said.
She told the radio station that she met Navalny on his way to the airport in the Siberian city of Tomsk on Thursday morning when it looked “absolutely fine”.
“He only drank black tea at the airport,” she said.
“Right after take off, he passed out quite quickly.
Navalny pledged to topple Vladimir Putin – who recently passed a law allowing him to rule for another eight years – from power and take his place
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko blamed Navalny for fermenting protests in his country, but without providing proof.
In a recent briefing, Navalny claimed that Putin’s chief ecologist Svetlana Radionova was linked to a luxury real estate transaction and her wealth could not be explained.
Navalny has sworn his goal is to topple Putin and replace him as president.
His press officer explained that after the plane took off from Tomsk, Navalny, 44, “said he was not feeling well and asked me for a towel, he was sweating.
“He asked me to talk to him because he needed to focus on the sound of his voice. I was talking to him, then they brought a cart with water.
“I asked if the water would help, he said no. Then he went to the bathroom, and after that he passed out.
It was later reported that Navalny in intensive care had regained consciousness but “had difficulty speaking”.
Alexander Murakhovsky, the chief medical officer treating Navalny, called his condition “serious”.
Separately, TVK citing the Omsk Health Ministry reported that he remained unconscious.
This contradicts an earlier report that he had come. Navalny coordinator in Tomsk, Kseniya Fadeeva, told Open Media: “He was perfectly fine before drinking tea at Tomsk airport. “