Photo: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg
NEW YORK (August 20, 2020) – The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) strongly condemns the suspected assassination attempt on leading Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is in a coma at a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk, after falling ill during a flight from the eastern city of Tomsk to Moscow. The plane was forced to make an emergency landing, after which Navalny was taken directly to the hospital. Since then, all of Navalny’s belongings have been confiscated by Russian security forces.
“We are deeply concerned for the health of Mr. Navalny, and wish him a speedy recovery,” said HRF President Thor Halvorssen. “Navalny is one of the bravest activists in the world today, and we know that no matter what, he will continue his struggle against the murderous dictatorship of Vladimir Putin.”
Navalny’s spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, has stated that Navalny was deliberately poisoned. On Navalny’s YouTube show Yarmysh noted that paramedics in the ambulance said that toxins were present in Navalny’s blood, suggesting that he had been poisoned. However, the deputy head physician of the hospital has denied these reports. Navalny’s team is seeking permission to evacuate him out of the country for treatment at a toxicology clinic, but this permission has thus far been denied by officials at the hospital.
Navalny has been a longtime critic of Russia’s authoritarian regime, and one of the leading voices standing up to Vladimir Putin. Navalny was returning from a tour of Siberian cities where he had been lending his support to independent candidates running in local elections next month. Navalny is also known for his work investigating the corruption of Russian oligarchs, which he frequently publishes on his YouTube channel.
Navalny has been jailed several times in the past, and has been the target of numerous attacks. In 2019, during Russia’s wave of protests, Navalny was jailed for allegedly “violating protest laws” after he called for a massive unsanctioned protest in response to fraudulent city council elections that barred numerous opposition candidates from running. In 2017, a Kremlin activist attacked Navalny with chemical dye, leaving him partially blind in one eye.
“I am disgusted, but not surprised, by the behavior of Putin,” said HRF Chairman Garry Kasparov. “I have no doubt that Navalny was poisoned by the Kremlin. The attack on Navalny is not the first time that the Kremlin has attempted to silence a critic, and it won’t be the last. Today, we are all with Navalny,” said Kasparov.
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies. For further comment, please contact [email protected].