If you’ve been following the news, you might have heard about Alexei Navalny, Russian opposition leader. He was recently poisoned, according to reports from Russia. Navalny’s party suspects that Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, could have played a role.
Moreover, they suspect that the poisoning was intended to kill Navalny, not merely scare him.
Speaking with news station CNN, Navalny’s friend Leonid Volkov mentioned a nightmare he has regularly. “I used to have a nightmare many times that I wake up from someone calling me and saying, Alexey was killed or something very bad happened to him,” Volkov told reporters. “I had this nightmare at least 10 times in my life.”
During a flight from Tomsk, Volkov’s nightmare became a reality. Navalny collapsed, and fell into a coma. Volkov, who is also Navalny’s chief of staff, moved quickly to get him out of Russia and into good medical care.
While Russian doctors said Navalny was too ill to be moved, Volkov insisted, and he was rushed by air ambulance to a hospital in Berlin, Germany.
While there, doctors discovered that Navalny had been poisoned. This confirmed Volkov’s worst fears: he believes someone attempted to kill his friend.
“Based on the information I have at this point of time, I strongly believe it’s either the state or part of the state. So as of now, we don’t have a proof that Putin ordered it,” Volkov told reporters. “So, it might be some of the government agencies. But the level of organization, the poisons that they used. It’s not something you can buy in a pharmacy, in a drugstore on the next corner.”
Vladimir Putin has been president of Russia for nearly two decades. Before that, he was a high-ranking member of the Kremlin, and served in the Soviet government before the fall of the USSR.
Over the years, Putin has defended his long time in power, stating he’s been elected by popular vote every time his term is set to expire.
However, opposition forces disagree. They have noted a pattern of opposition leaders being stabbed, shot, and otherwise silenced. Navalny is the latest in a series of popular opposition leaders who have energized a movement to unseat Putin. However, as Navalny’s poisoning shows, it is difficult to be an opposition leader in Russia.
After Navalny publicly supported the outrage in Belarus, it’s likely that Russian leaders took notice, Volkov tells reporters. Perhaps someone in power in Russia feels it would be worth having Navalny removed, rather than allowing him to continue inspiring voters in Russia.