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Alexei Navalny demands answers after alleged poisoning

WRITTEN BY: Joe Clark, Sports Editor

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

After being allegedly poisoned, Russian politician Alexei Navalny requested his clothes from the day he became sick back from Russia on Monday, claiming they are “vital evidence.”

Navalny, an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin, is recovering at a hospital in Berlin after becoming seriously ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow a month ago.

In a statement released on Monday, Navalny said: “I’m interested in one thing now: my clothes. That is, the clothes I was wearing on the day of the poisoning, August 20. 30 days of ‘pre-investigation check’ were used to hide this vital piece of evidence.”

“Before they allowed me to go to Germany, they took all my clothes off and I was sent there completely naked. Taking into account the fact that Novichok was found on my body, and a contact method of poisoning is very likely, my clothes are very important material evidence,” he added.

The Wall Street Journal has called Navalny “the man Vladimir Putin fears the most,” and Navalny’s team has pointed a finger at the Kremlin to blame them for the attack. 

Putin’s press secretary acknowledged in 2017 that Putin refuses to say Nalvany’s name, saying “Well, he doesn’t do it. Yes, we’ve also noticed this. Apparently this is due to his attitude about this person.” 

Nalavany has made a major impact in Russia for his anti-corruption movements, namely through his Foundation for the Struggle Against Corruption (FBK). Navalny also organized wide-scale protests after Putin was elected president and later inaugurated. In 2013, Nalvany ran for president of Moscow and won 27% of the vote despite efforts by the Kremlin to smear him. 

The Kremlin has denied all involvement in the attack on Nalvany and also a Sept. 8 attack on three volunteers linked to his team. 

However, political analysts such as Valeriy Akimenko from the Conflict Studies Research Centre are skeptical of the Kremlin’s claims. 

“Russia has a track record of sudden deaths among the Kremlin’s critics: Anna Politkovskaya, Alexander Litvinenko and Boris Nemtsov, to name but a few,” Akimenko told CNN. “If this wasn’t a murder plot or assassination attempt, it was an act of intimidation.”

Vladimir Kara-Murza, another Russian opposition leader, has been poisoned twice in the last five years. 

He said, “I don’t think the words safety or security apply to anyone who is opposition in Russia.” 

Kara-Murza, recognizes the importance of the opposition movement, despite the dangers. 

“But it’s not about safety; it’s about doing the right thing for our country. It would be too much of a gift to the Kremlin if those of us who stand in opposition gave up and ran,” he said. 

Navalny is suspected of being poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok, of which traces were found on the water bottle he was drinking out of the day he fell ill. He was in a medically induced coma from Aug. 20, the day he was allegedly poisoned, until Sept. 7. 

Novichok is  rare and few scientists outside of Russia have experience dealing with it. The weapon was first developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Novichok was also used in a Sept. 2018 attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in England. 

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