Russian doctors say no poison detected in jailed Kremlin critic

Moscow (AFP) –


Doctors at a Russian state facility on Wednesday said they had found no traces of poison in jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was hospitalised at the weekend with suspicious symptoms.

Navalny's personal physician said Monday his condition suggested "poisoning by some unknown chemical substance" after he was rushed to a hospital from jail, where he is being held over an unauthorised protest.

However Alexei Tokarev, head of the state Sklifosovsky Institute for Emergency Care, which has a toxicology lab, said the lab ran Navalny's samples and "poisoning substances were not found," according to Russian news agencies.

Navalny was sent back to his jail cell Monday despite the protests of his doctor, who said he could be at risk of coming into contact with a poison again there.

The jailed politician -- one of Vladimir Putin's most vocal critics -- said the official explanation of his symptoms as an "allergy" did not make sense as he had never suffered from any allergies.

Others in the Russian opposition voiced concern that it may have been an attempt on Navalny's life, the latest such case of an opposition figure falling ill with unexplained symptoms.

Among them is Pyotr Verzilov, an activist with Russian protest punk band Pussy Riot who experienced sudden loss of vision and disorientation in 2018 and recovered in Germany.

"When I was unconscious and dying in Sklifosovsky institute, doctors didn't find anything either. But two days later German doctors concluded that I was poisoned," he tweeted Wednesday.

Doctors at Berlin's Charite hospital had said it was "highly probable" that Verzilov had been poisoned.

Another survivor of poisoning was opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza, who fell into a coma in 2015 and went abroad for treatment.