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Navalny, Awaiting Appeal, Shares Suspicions He May Have Been Poisoned

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny sits on a hospital bed in Moscow where he was treated for skin rashes and severe swelling of the face on July 29.
Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny sits on a hospital bed in Moscow where he was treated for skin rashes and severe swelling of the face on July 29.

Russian opposition activist Aleksei Navalny says he shares the suspicions of his lawyer and doctor that he may have been poisoned in prison.

Commenting as he awaits a July 30 appeal hearing over his 30-day jail sentence for violating protest laws, Navalny, who had just returned to detention after being treated in hospital for severe swelling of the face and skin rashes, raised questions over his sudden illness.

"Are they really such absolute idiots to poison you in a place where suspicions point only at them?" Navalny wrote in a post on his website.

"Good question… For now, I can say one thing with certainty: the people in power in Russia are really rather stupid. It seems to you that in their actions you need to look for secret meaning or a rational purpose. But in reality, they are just stupid, malicious and obsessed with money."

The Kremlin critic also posted a picture of himself in social media with a bloated face and one eye shut that he couldn’t open.

Navalny was sentenced after calling for an unauthorized protest on July 27 during which nearly 1,400 demonstrators were detained in a crackdown by police that has been internationally condemned as violent and "disproportionate."

The police crackdown was one of the biggest in recent years against an opposition that has grown more defiant while denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hold on power.

Police Beat, Detain Protesters And Opposition Figures At Moscow Rally
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Navalny was taken to hospital on July 28 and released a day later after being treated for what hospital said was a non-life threatening condition that they could not prove was poisoning.

Anastasia Vasilyeva, his personal doctor, has said she suspects poisoning and has taken hair and clothing samples for independent testing. She has also called for any video from internal cameras in the jail.

INFOGRAPHIC: A Timeline Of Russian Poisoning Cases (CLICK TO VIEW)

Navalny’s lawyer, Olga Mikhailova, said on July 29 that she was asking in the appeal for the court to terminate the case "due to the lack of evidence or to terminate his administrative arrest due to his poor health condition."

“He was really poisoned by some unknown chemical substance," she told reporters.

"But what the substance was has not been established."

The rally took place in protest at Moscow election officials who have refused to register several independent and opposition candidates to run in the September 8 vote to the 45-seat Moscow City Duma legislature.

The municipal legislature has oversight over Moscow's $43 billion budget, the largest of any city in the country.

The United States, the European Union, Canada, and human rights groups denounced what they called the "disproportionate" and "indiscriminate" use of force against the demonstrators.

With reporting by Reuters and Interfax
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