Russia has a long track record of poisoning, even going so far as to travel to London, England, to lace an outspoken critic’s tea with radioactive Polonium, eventually killing the man.
Yesterday the trend continued as television journalist and opposition figure Vladimir Kara-Murza was hospitalized after collapsing suddenly. The 34-year-old Kremlin critic nearly slipped into coma, and his condition is critical. Doctors have noted signs that he was poisoned, but they’re yet to release a final diagnosis, according to Vadim Prokhorov, a member of Kara-Murza’s political party.
Kara-Murza is a leading member of the opposition party RPR-PARNAS and works as the coordinator of Open Russia, a Russian civic group founded by former political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a longtime Putin foe.
Putin had Khodorkovsky jailed for over ten years in a harsh Russian prison. The trial was universally condemned as a sham.
The poisoning comes after Open Russia released a controversial documentary film purporting to expose corruption and human rights abuses by the Chechen government earlier this week.
The despotic ruler of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, responded with a bizarre video clip depicting him firing an automatic weapon threateningly into the air.
Political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky interpreted the video as a veiled threat against Open Russia, in response to its documentary film. Kadyrov has in the past called Khodorkovsky his “personal enemy” and threatened to come after him, despite the man being in jail.
Putin recently announced a harsh crackdown on NGOs, where anyone affiliated with them could be thrown in jail for up to six years with no trial and no appeal process. Open Russia is precisely the sort of NGO the new law targets.