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6 Prominent Russians Who Suffered Poisoning Attacks

Ex-KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned in 2006 FA Bobo / PIXSELL / PA Images / TASS

Leading Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny remained in a coma in a Siberian hospital several hours after falling ill due to what was likely a toxic substance slipped in his tea, his spokeswoman said Thursday.

The incident echoed several other cases of poisoning or suspected poisoning attacks involving Russian activists, journalists and former spies stretching back more than a decade.

Below is a list of six other prominent Russian figures who have suffered similar fates in the past two decades:

Sergei and Yulia Skripal, 2018

Former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were hospitalized in critical condition after being found unconscious on a bench in the British town of Salisbury. They have since recovered and were reported to have fled to New Zealand under new identities.

Britain accused Russian military intelligence of poisoning the Skripals with Novichok, a military grade nerve agent. Russia denies poisoning the Skripals.

Pyotr Verzilov, 2018

Pussy Riot activist and Mediazona publisher Verzilov was rushed to a Moscow hospital after suddenly losing his sight, hearing and mobility. He was later airlifted to Germany where doctors said his symptoms were strongly indicative of poisoning.

Russian investigators “didn’t even attempt to investigate my assassination attempt in the two years that passed,” Verzilov said Thursday in the wake of Navalny’s suspected poisoning.

Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr., 2015 and 2017

Opposition activist and journalist Kara-Murza Jr. almost died from kidney failure in the first incident in 2015. He was hospitalized with similar poisoning symptoms and placed in a medically induced coma in 2017.

Russia denied poisoning Kara-Murza.

Alexander Litvinenko, 2006

The former Russian spy and critic of President Vladimir Putin spent six years in exile in Britain when he was poisoned by tea laced with the radioactive isotope polonium-210. 

A British inquiry concluded 10 years later that Putin “probably” approved Litvinenko’s killing. The Kremlin has denied involvement.

Anna Politkovskaya, 2004

The investigative journalist and critic of Russia’s brutal war against separatists in Chechnya felt sick and fainted after drinking tea on her flight to cover the siege of Beslan. 

Politkovskaya was shot dead in her Moscow apartment block two years later in a killing opposition leaders blamed on the Kremlin. Authorities denied involvement and five men were convicted of her murder in 2014, though no one was convicted of ordering the contract-style killing. 

Yury Shchekochikhin, 2003

Shchekochikhin, an investigative journalist, experienced symptoms of a severe allergic reaction and died mysteriously days before planning to meet FBI investigators in the United States. Russian investigators initially ruled out foul play and said Shchekochikhin had died from an unspecified allergic reaction before reopening the case at least twice in the years since. 

Colleagues maintain that he had been poisoned with a rare toxin.

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