Russia Opposition Leader Returned to Jail After ‘Toxic’ Exposure
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny is being returned to prison after treatment in the hospital for “a toxic reaction to an unknown chemical substance,” his doctor, Anastasia Vasilieva, said.
Navalny, 43, was taken from the cell where he was serving a 30-day sentence to a Moscow city hospital Sunday after he had a major allergic reaction. He was released from the clinic and is being sent back to jail after an official diagnosis of “contact dermatitis,” though the cause of his illness remains unclear, Vasilieva told reporters outside the hospital in comments broadcast on the TV Rain channel.
“To release him to the same place where he received a dose of a completely unidentified chemical substance without even waiting for a primitive analysis is not professional,” said Vasilieva, who said Navalny should remain under observation for at least three days. “His term should be shortened because Alexey is not fully recovered yet.”
Eldar Kazakhmedov, a doctor treating him at the hospital, confirmed the allergy on Sunday evening and said Navalny had an outbreak of hives, according to the Interfax news agency. The hospital did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
Russia’s most prominent Kremlin opponent, Navalny was jailed Wednesday for having appealed to supporters to join protests that took place Saturday in the capital against the authorities’ refusal to register opposition candidates for the Moscow city council elections in September. About 1,400 people were detained at those demonstrations, the largest number since major protests hit the capital in 2012.
Vasilieva -- who treated Navalny in 2017 when assailants splashed chemicals in his face, causing burns to his eyes -- went to the hospital Sunday night but wasn’t allowed by local staff and police to complete a full examination, she wrote in Facebook.
“As the doctor who treated Alexey for burns to the surface of his eyes two years ago, I can say with confidence that both in 2017 and now, this is the result of the harmful effect of an unknown chemical substance,” she wrote. She later told TV Rain that she’d taken samples from his hair and clothing for analysis.
He was suffering from swelling and irritation around the eyes, as well as a skin rash, Vasilieva said. Navalny was seen in video that emerged Monday on Twitter of him preparing to leave the hospital, accompanied by police.
The activist’s lawyer, Olga Mikhailova, said he was in a cell with five other inmates sharing the same food when he alone was taken ill.
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