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Putin opponent Navalny may have been exposed to ‘toxic agent’


Protesters hold umbrellas as they are enveloped by tear gas on a street during a demonstration against a controversial extradition bill in Hong Kong on July 28, 2019. – Tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters defied authorities to hold an unsanctioned march through Hong Kong, a day after riot police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse another illegal gathering, plunging the financial hub deeper into crisis. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP)

Russia’s jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny might have been exposed to an unidentified “toxic agent,” his doctor said on Monday, while health officials insisted his condition was satisfactory.

“Some toxic agent may be the reason for Alexei Navalny’s ‘illness’,” his physician Anastasia Vasilyeva said in a post on Facebook, adding that officials at Moscow’s hospital No 64, which treated him, have behaved strangely.

On Sunday, President Vladimir Putin’s top opponent was rushed from jail to hospital suffering an acute allergic reaction.

Vasilyeva said later Sunday the 43-year-old could have been exposed to an “unknown chemical substance”, complaining she was not allowed to properly examine him.

A representative of the hospital told AFP on Monday Navalny was “in a satisfactory condition.”

“His body temperature is 36.6C,” the representative said, declining to release Navalny’s precise diagnosis.

In a new post on Monday, Vasilyeva, who treated Navalny for a serious eye injury in the past, accused the doctors of not wanting to investigate what had caused Navalny’s illness.

They say “he simply has hives. But why are you lying?” the ophthalmologist said.

“They have decided against establishing the cause of generalised oedema and rash.”

Vasilyeva and another physician visited Navalny on Sunday but were not allowed to properly examine the politician who had swollen eyelids, discharge in the eye, and rash on his upper body.

Vasilyeva said it appeared that he was suffering from acute toxic conjunctivitis and dermatitis.

The hospital doctors refused to inform Navalny and his family of his diagnosis and were visibly jittery, Vasilyeva said.

She treated Navalny in 2017 when he nearly lost the sight in one eye after an attack by an assailant.

She said she was worried about the condition of the damaged eye.

Navalny has never suffered from allergies in the past, his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh has said.

The Putin critic is serving a 30-day jail sentence for calling a mass protest after authorities blocked prominent opposition candidates from taking part in Moscow city elections in September.

Sunday’s hospitalisation came a day after almost 1,400 people were arrested at the demonstration the opposition leader had called.

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