Russia’s most prominent opposition figure, Alexei Navalny, has been taken from jail to a hospital in Moscow after suffering an acute allergic reaction, which one doctor claims might have been due to poison.
Mr Navalny, 43, was rushed to hospital on Sunday morning (local time) from jail, where he is serving a 30-day sentence for violating tough protest laws.
Mr Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh wrote on Twitter that he had suffered “severe swelling of the face and skin redness”.
She said the cause of Mr Navalny’s allergic reaction was unknown and he had never suffered from such reactions in the past.
Doctors at the hospital treating Mr Navalny have yet to reveal their diagnosis, and the precise cause of his symptoms remains unknown.
But one doctor, who has previously treated him and was able to briefly speak to him and see him on Sunday, said she could not rule out that he had been poisoned by an unknown chemical substance.
Mr Navalny was twice splashed with antiseptic dye in 2017, reportedly suffering a chemical burn to one of his eyes.
His most recent illness comes just a day after Moscow detained more than 1000 people for an illegal demonstration he had called for. It was one of the biggest crackdowns in recent years against the opposition and has drawn international criticism.
Another video from central #Moscow, #Russia, where police used disproportionate force to disperse and detain peaceful #protest|ers today. Nearly 700 people detained during today’s protests: pic.twitter.com/7SRJPwnQLe
— Alex Kokcharov (@AlexKokcharov) July 27, 2019
Authorities say opposition candidates had failed to collect enough genuine signatures backing them – an allegation the opposition candidates say is false.
Spokeswoman for the US embassy in Moscow Andrea Kalan wrote on Twitter that the large number of detentions in Moscow and the “use of disproportionate police force undermine rights of citizens to participate in the democratic process”.
In a statement, the Polish Foreign Ministry called on Russian authorities “to stop using force against peaceful demonstrations and to refrain from arbitrary detentions”.
In a separate incident on Sunday, Russian activist Dmitry Gudkov, who was among the opposition candidates barred from running in local elections, said he was detained and taken to a Moscow police station.
The reason for Mr Gudkov’s detention was not immediately clear, his spokesman, Alexei Obukhov, told Reuters.