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Siberian Opposition Activist Says Wife 'Poisoned,' Believes He Was The Target

"I had to tear off her clothes because her body was covered with blisters and she had a fever," Aleksei Tupitsin said of his wife.

IRKUTSK, Russia -- The wife of opposition figure Aleksei Tupitsin has suffered what he says doctors described as "a chemical poisoning," which he believes was an attack likely aimed at him.

Tupitsin told RFE/RL on November 5 that his wife, Vera Kuzakova, fell ill aboard a plane as the couple flew from Poland to the Siberian city of Irkutsk.

According to the activist, during a stopover at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow, the two drank some tea at a cafe before boarding a plane for the second leg of their journey. While in flight, Kuzakova's body became covered with sores that resembled burns.

"I had to tear off her clothes because her body was covered with blisters and she had a fever. An ambulance team that I called in Irkutsk saved her. They immediately started an IV and confirmed my fears that it was a chemical poisoning," he said, adding that he believes the tea his wife ingested at the Moscow airport was meant for him.

"I think the poisoning is linked to our ongoing investigation of the controversial purchase of a local oil company's shares by local officials in the early 2000s," Tupitsin aid.

While in Poland, Tupitsin met with exiled Siberian opposition and rights activists Sergei Bespalov and Yevgeny Khasoyev, as well as Polish officials.

The incident bears similarities to a poison attack against jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny.

The Kremlin critic fell ill after boarding a plane on a flight from Siberia to Moscow. He was eventually taken to Germany for life-saving treatment.

European labs later concluded that he was poisoned with military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia, part of a group of nerve agents known as Novichok.

Navalny accused President Vladimir Putin of ordering the poisoning, which the Kremlin has denied.

In November 2006, a former officer in Russia’s FSB security service, outspoken Putin critic Aleksandr Litvinenko, fell ill after he drank tea that was poisoned with polonium-210, a rare, highly radioactive isotope.

He died several days later in a hospital in London.