Alexei Navalny, the fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, joked just hours before his suspected poisoning about how he managed to stay alive for so long, according to a report.

Ilya Chumakov, an activist in the Siberian city of Tomsk, told Reuters that she had met with Navalny along with a group and he was asked about how he managed to live to the age of 44, since he is considered Putin’s biggest political foe.

Chumakov said that Navalny joked that he had to make excuses about not being killed but then turned serious. He said his death would not help Putin and likely turn him into a hero.

Kira Yarmish, Navalny’s spokeswoman, told the news agency that the Siberian hospital treating him is not allowing his transfer to a hospital better equipped to treat him. France and Germany also offered to treat Navalny and Germany even sent a plane.

“The ban on transporting Navalny in an attempt on his life being carried out right now by doctors and the deceitful authorities that have authorized it,” Yarmish posted.

The 44-year-old is said to be in a coma and on a ventilator in a hospital intensive care unit after falling ill on a flight back to Moscow from Tomsk. Yarmish said he was poisoned with some kind of toxin and was unconscious.

“We assume that Alexei was poisoned with something mixed into his tea. That was the only thing he drank this morning. The doctors say that the toxin was absorbed more quickly because of the hot liquid. Right now Alexei is unconscious,” she said.

State news agency Tass reported that police were not considering deliberate poisoning, a statement the politician’s allies dismissed.


Doctors at Omsk Ambulance Hospital No. 1, where the politician was being treated, remained tight-lipped about his diagnosis saying only that they were considering a variety of theories, including poisoning. Local health officials said they found no indication that Navalny had suffered from a heart attack, stroke or the coronavirus.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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