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Kremlin critic Navalny says he may have been poisoned

Published: Updated:

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was discharged on Monday from a hospital where he was treated for symptoms of an acute allergy, said he may have been poisoned, a suspicion shared by his lawyer and personal doctor.

Navalny, 43, was rushed to hospital from jail on Sunday with what his spokeswoman said was “severe swelling of the face and skin redness”.

The Moscow hospital treating him said on Monday it sent him back to his prison cell after his condition improved. It said it could not disclose what it believed had been behind his sudden illness due to patient confidentiality.

One of the doctors who treated him, Elena Sibikina, told reporters that the idea that the anti-corruption campaigner had been poisoned had “not been proven”. She said his life was not in danger.

But Navalny took to social media to say he believed Russian officials were stupid enough to try to poison him in the prison where he is serving a 30-day sentence for violating protest laws.

“Are they really such idiots to poison you in a place where suspicions point only at them?” Navalny wrote.

“It’s a good question. For now, I can say one thing with certainty: the people in power in Russia are really quite stupid guys. It seems to you that in their actions you need to look for secret meaning or a rational purpose. But in fact they are just stupid, malicious and obsessed with money.”

Posting a picture of himself with a puffy face unable to open either eye, he pointed to what he said was the previous poisoning of two other opposition activists and said his own eyes had swollen up to the size of ping pong balls.

“He was really poisoned by some unknown chemical substance,” his lawyer, Olga Mikhailova, told reporters. “But what the substance was has not been established.”

His personal doctor, Anastasia Vasilyeva, said she suspected poisoning, and had taken samples of his hair and a T-shirt to be tested at an independent laboratory to prove it. She said she also wanted CCTV footage of his cell to be examined.

The Kremlin has not commented on the incident.