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Nation & World

Putin Opposition Leader Jailed Again After Suspected Poisoning

Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny attends a protest in Moscow, Russia, on July 20.
Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny attends a protest in Moscow, Russia, on July 20.

A prominent Russian opposition leader was discharged from a Moscow hospital Monday and sent back to jail, despite claims by his doctor that he may have been poisoned by an unknown chemical agent while in custody.

A day earlier, Alexei Navalny, 43, was hospitalized with what was initially described as an "allergic reaction." His spokesman said he had exhibited "severe swelling of the face and skin redness," a reaction he had never had in the past.

Navalny was arrested several days before an opposition demonstration held on Saturday and is currently serving a 30-day sentence. More than 1,300 people were detained after protesting the exclusion of opposition candidates from Moscow's city council elections.

Navalny raised the possibility that he had been poisoned by a chemical agent while in jail, according a blog post cited by the Associated Press. His physician, Dr. Anastasiya Vasilyeva, said she suspected that Navalny could have been chemically poisoned, although that suspicion could not be confirmed. Vasilyeva said Navalny had been returned to jail before being properly tested, but she had taken his hair samples in hopes of getting an independent assessment.

Navalny's attorney, Olga Mikhailova, also blamed his condition on an unknown chemical substance.

The opposition leader has been targeted before. In 2017, he suffered a partial loss of vision after being assaulted and doused with a green antiseptic. His sight was restored after he sought treatment abroad.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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