Police in Moscow dispersed a crowd of about two dozen people and detained a Russian journalist at a prison hospital where opposition activist Aleksei Navalny is being treated for what his personal doctor says are possible effects of “undefined chemical substances.”
Video footage emerged on Twitter of police clad in tactical gear emerging from a bus on July 29 in front of the hospital, detaining and chasing down people who had assembled outside the hospital.
A reporter from the Internet TV station Dozhd was detained while reporting live from the scene as the group of people stood in the background near the hospital’s entrance.
Navalny’s attending physician, Anastasiya Vasilyeva, said on Facebook that she doesn’t believe the Kremlin foe is suffering from what his spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, had said was a “severe allergic reaction.”
Vasilyeva and cardiologist Yaroslav Ashikhmin briefly spoke to Navalny late on July 28 through the crack of a door and said she could not rule out that he had been poisoned.
Yarmysh earlier tweeted that Navalny had arrived at the hospital with “severe facial swelling and red rashes on the skin.”
She also said that Navalny had “never experienced an allergic reaction before.”
Officials gave no details of Navalny's condition, and Russia's Interior Ministry did not respond to requests from Western news agencies for comment.
Vasilyeva noted that Navalny had a rash on his upper body, skin lesions, and discharge from his eye. She called for samples of his bed sheets, skin, and hair to be tested for signs of chemical agents.
Vasilyeva also said she found it suspicious that authorities did not allow her to examine him properly.
Navalny was sentenced last week to 30 days for calling for an unsanctioned protest in Moscow on July 27. Nearly 1,400 people were detained by police around the rally, according to reporting by AFP.
The demonstration was called to denounce election officials in Moscow who have refused to register independent and opposition candidates for the September 8 vote to the 45-seat Moscow City Duma legislature.
Leonid Volkov, a top aide to Navalny, tweeted on July 28 that he'd had a similar reaction after he served a sentence in the same cell as Navalny last month.
Volkov rejected talk of a "conspiracy" and called instead for a "serious inspection" of hygiene standards at the detention center.
Navalny has been sentenced to jail about a dozen times in recent years and has served more than 200 days in incarceration.