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article imageRussian doctors say no poison detected in jailed Kremlin critic

By AFP     Jul 31, 2019 in World

Doctors at a Russian state facility on Wednesday said they had found no traces of poison in jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, but his physician dismissed the results as "completely absurd".

Navalny was hospitalised at the weekend with suspicious symptoms.

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

However, Navalny's personal physician Anastasia Vasilyeva dismissed the results as "completely absurd", saying the politician's hair, bedsheets and clothes should have also been tested.

Following Sunday's incident, Vasilyeva had said that Navalny's condition suggested poisoning by an unknown chemical substance after the 43-year-old was rushed to a hospital from jail, where he is being held over an unauthorised protest.

"We don't know whether this chemical substance was present in sufficient quantities in his blood and urine to be detected and how long its lifespan is in the human organism," she wrote on her Facebook page late Wednesday.

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 politician -- one of President 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.

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