Updated: Aug 24, 2020
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has arrived in Germany for treatment for suspected poisoning. He fell seriously ill on a flight to Moscow on Thursday morning and later entered a coma.
The Omsk regional police department in Russia told the news agency Interfax they have identified an industrial chemical substance in Navalny's body. The substance, 2-ethylhexyl diphenyl phosphate, could, they say, have entered his body through contact with a plastic cup. The chemical is used in plastic packaging for food.
Navalny, leader and focal point for anti-Putin protests has been a vocal and persistent critic of President Putin. He has been arrested on numerous occasions, beaten and attacked on the streets.
His apparent poisoning comes within the context of ongoing protests in major cities across the Russian Federation and against President Lukashenko in Belarus. Although not covered by western media, disquiet across Russia at Putin's leadership has been growing. Protests have been a common site across the country for the last 6 months or more.
Furthermore, Belarus, the bordering and perhaps politically and culturally closest country to Russia, is presently experiencing the most serious political crisis and unrest in its history, resulting from allegations that recent elections that returned President Lukashenko to power with an impossibly high 80% of the vote, were rigged. The Kremlin will be watching events in Belarus very closely and has already offered military support to Lukashenko's regime in the capital, Minsk. Undoubtedly, Moscow will be concerned that the unrest in Belarus should not spread and the removal of Russia's most popular opposition leader at this time is convenient for Vladimir Putin to say the least.