On Thursday, opposition leader and Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was rushed to the hospital where he remains in critical condition, after drinking tea that his allies believe was laced with poison.
Alexei Navalne was a fierce critic of Putin, and if proved, this would be one of the many assassination attempts that Putin and the Kremlin have been suspected of carrying out against his opposition parties.
Kira Yarmysh, his spokesperson, has said that he remains in the intensive care unit in serious yet stable condition, and has been hooked up to an artificial lung ventilator in a hospital far from the Russian capital.
“We assume that Alexei was poisoned with something mixed into his tea. It was the only thing that he drank in the morning. Alexei is now unconscious,” Yarmysh told Reuters.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov has asserted that any suspicions of poisons would have to be proved through lab results, and wished the opposition leader a speedy recovery.
It is also important to note that this isn’t the first time the Russian President has been accused of attacking, poisoning or assassinating people who oppose him. Sergei Skripal, a former double agent, was poisoned with a nerve agent while in Salisbury, England. Putin has also been connected to the 2015 assassination of Boris Nemtsov, an opposition leader who was shot in the head, heart, stomach and liver, killing him instantly hours after he appealed to the public to join him on a march against the war in Ukraine. While two people, were arrested and charged with his murder, Zaur Dadaev, who had confessed, retracted his statement as one extorted out of torture. In 2006, Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB member, died after being poisoned by a tea spiked with Polonium at a London hotel. A British inquiry found that Litvinenko was poisoned by Russian agents Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, who were acting on orders that had 'probably been approved’ by Putin.
Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist for Novaya Gazeta, who had been critical of Putin’s involvement in the Chechen War was found murdered in her apartment elevator in 2006. Similarly Natalya Estemirova, a journalist and human rights activist, was kidnapped and shot multiple times. No one has been charged with her murder.
All of this comes in the wake of the conflict in Belarus, a close ally of Russia, where President Alexander Lukashenko is being pressured to resign by protesters and critics after winning what has been called, a rigged election.
“Putin is scared,” said an EU diplomat, to Reuters. “He is sending a message to his own people not to try to do at home what they see on TV from Belarus.”
In January, Putin’s leadership went into considerable reshuffling as the Prime Minister Dmitri Medvede resigned when President Putin announced plans for a national referendum that would grant him 2 more terms and shift power away from a successor to the presidency. It was approved by the Constitutional Court in February, and then public vote was scheduled to happen in April. In July, the results revealed that Putin had won an overwhelming victory as 77.9% of those who voted were in favor of amendments to the constitution of Russia and 21.2% against, according to reports from state news agency RIA Novosti.
Putin has also been found by a GOP -led investigation that he was involved in the 2016 U.S Presidential election, which may have tipped the vote in favour of Trump. The nearly 1,000-page intelligence committee report gave a detailed record of all links between President Donald Trump's associates and Kremlin officials. It concluded that the Kremlin "engaged in an aggressive, multifaceted effort to influence, or attempt to influence" the 2016 election, and that some Trump associates were keen on help from Russia.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has used the investigation to demand that he should get a third term at a rally in Wisconsin.
“We are going to win four more years. And then after that we’ll go for another four more years because you know what, they spied on my campaign. We should get a redo of four years,” the President announced.