Alexei Navalny 'poisoning' waiter vanishes after serving Vladimir Putin enemy ‘toxic tea’ as he fights for life in coma

THE waiter who served Alexei Navalny his “poisoned” tea has mysteriously vanished as the Putin critic fights for his life in hospital.

The lawyer was heard screaming in agony as he fell seriously ill on a flight to Moscow today.



Video shows fierce Kremlin foe Navalny, 44, being stretchered from the aircraft to a waiting ambulance in the Siberian city of Omsk.

He was unconscious, according to his press secretary, Kira Yarmysh, who suspects poison was added to his tea.

He was rushed to hospital with an initial diagnosis of “toxic poisoning”.

Earlier Navalny was snapped drinking from a cup at Vienna Cafe at Tomsk Airport before catching his flight.

The cafe's owners earlier said they were checking CCTV to find out what had happened, Interfax news agency said.

But the manager of the cafe has now said the staff member who served the opposition leader could not now be found.

The cafe had closed and an investigation was underway, she said.

The alleged poisioning comes two years after the novichock attack on ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 67, and his 34-year-old daughter Yulia, by Putin-backed GRU agents in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

And it comes 14 years after Alexander Litvinenko – another ex-spy turned Putin critic – died after his tea was poisoned with radioactive polonium-210 in London.

Doctors say the toxin was absorbed faster through the hot liquid. Alexey is now unconscious.

Navalny is now in a coma and has been put on a ventilatorafter reportedly suffering from a stroke.

Ms Yarmysh posted from his ambulance: "We assume that Alexei was poisoned with something mixed into the tea.

“It was the only thing that he drank in the morning.

“Doctors say the toxin was absorbed faster through the hot liquid.

“Alexey is now unconscious.”

She said: “This morning Navalny was returning to Moscow from Tomsk.

“On the flight he started feeling ill.

“The plane made an emergency landing in Omsk.”



Alexander Murakhovsky, the chief doctor treating Navalny, said his condition was “grave”.

It was later reported that Navalny was in intensive care and had regained consciousness but was “struggling to speak”.

Kseniya Fadeeva, a member of Navalny’s team in Tomsk, said: “He was completely fine before he drank tea at Tomsk airport.”

He was completely fine before he drank tea at Tomsk airport.

Ms Yarmysh added that after the plane took off from Tomsk, the lawyer “said that he was feeling unwell and asked me for a napkin, he was sweating.

“He asked me to speak to him because he needed to concentrate on the sound of the voice.

“I was talking to him, then they brought a trolley with water.

“I asked if water would help, he said no.

“Then he went to the toilet, and after that he fainted.”

'SCREAMING FROM PAIN'

A passenger on the flight said he heard Navalny "screaming from pain".

Tomsk blogger Pavel Lebedev said: "I was flying with Alexei Navalny to Moscow.

“At the beginning of the flight he went to the toilet and didn't come back.

“He was feeling very unwell.

“He is still screaming from pain.

“No-one is explaining what exactly is the problem with him.”

He went on: “They landed us in Omsk, an ambulance came.”




This is not the first time Navalny has been struck down in mysterious circumstances.

The leader of the Russian opposition Progress Party was hospitalised after developing an acute "mystery allergy" a day after mass protests in Moscow in July last year.

It came while Navalny was serving a 30-day jail sentence for calling for an unauthorised demonstration.

The politician is seen as Putin’s most charismatic and potentially dangerous foe.

He famously described Putin's ruling party, United Russia, as a "party of crooks and thieves" and labelled elections "rigged".

Navalny has faced constant legal attacks and has served a number of jail sentences.

But he has refused to be cowed by intimidation, which peaked with the 2015 murder of his ally Boris Nemtsov – rumoured by many to be linked to the Kremlin.

BUMPED OFF The history of poisonings and mystery deaths of Kremlin critics

KREMLIN critics have a habit of mysteriously dying or being poisoned by shady assassins.

The most recent example is that of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 67, and his 34-year-old daughter Yulia.

The pair escaped with their lives after deadly nerve agent novichok was smeared on his front door in Salisbury in 2018.

Two of Putin’s GRU agents were blamed for the attack, but they had fled back to Russia and were never brought to justice.

Journalist and Putin critic Anna Politkovskaya became dangerously ill in 2004 after drinking tea on an Aeroflot flight.

She survived the poisoning only to be shot while holding bags of groceries in the lift of her Moscow flats in 2006.

That same year, in London, ex-spy turned Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko died in agony after drinking tea laced with radioactive polonium-210.

Brit cops pointed the finger of blame at Russian agent Andrey Lugovoy, who had also by this point fled back to Russia and never faced justice.

He is now an MP in the Russian parliament.

In 2004, anti-Russian Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko barely survived a soup tainted with TCCD, an ingredient in Agent Orange 170,000 times more poisonous than cyanide, which left his face horribly disfigured.

The poisonings also stretch back to the Soviet days, when Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov died after being jabbed in the leg with an umbrella tipped with deadly ricin while waiting for a bus in London.

Mark Galeotti, a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, told FP: “One of poison’s great virtues for the politically minded murderer is their capacity to combine easy deniability and vicious theatricality.

“Even while the murderer denies any role, perhaps with a sly wink, the victim dies a horrific and often lengthy death. A message in a poison bottle.”

In the days following Nemtsov's killing, Navalny declared: "I am not frightened and I am sure my associates are not frightened either.

"There will be no let-up in our efforts, we will give up nothing.

"This act of terror has not achieved its goal in this sense."

His anti-corruption organisation was dubbed a "foreign agent" by the Russian authorities.

Police have conducted repeated raids on his offices.

Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko has blamed Navalny for fomenting the protests in his country, but without providing proof.

Navalny has vowed his aim is to topple Putin and replace him as president.

Trained as a lawyer, his activism first began when he purchased stocks of five oil and gas companies in 2008.

This enabled him to probe their finances and advocate for greater transparency behind the companies and their oligarch benefactors' finances.

He has also used YouTube and blogs to keep his supporters informed – thereby bypassing the Kremlin's tight controls over the country's media outlets.

Kremlin critics have a habit of mysteriously dying or being poisoned by shady assassins.

Mark Galeotti, a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, told FP: “One of poison’s great virtues for the politically minded murderer is their capacity to combine easy deniability and vicious theatricality.

“Even while the murderer denies any role, perhaps with a sly wink, the victim dies a horrific and often lengthy death. A message in a poison bottle.”

 

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