Updated Jul 29, 2019

Leading Putin critic Alexei Navalny hospitalized with mysterious illness

Alexei Navalny. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny was discharged from the hospital and sent back to jail Monday, despite suspicions raised by his personal doctor that he was poisoned with "undefined chemical substances" — not suffering from an allergic reaction, as had previously been reported.

Why it matters: Navalny is an anti-corruption lawyer whose fierce opposition to Vladimir Putin has caused him to be arrested and jailed by Russian authorities a number of times. Navalny's spokesperson says he has never had an allergic reaction in his life, raising questions about whether his illness could in fact be the product of political retaliation. Putin has been accused of poisoning or having political opponents assassinated in the past.

  • Police reportedly did not want Navalny to be transported to the hospital and relented only when the ambulance crew threatened to make a scene, according to Navalny's spokesperson.
  • About 20 journalists who showed up at the hospital where Navalny is being treated have been detained by police, according to Russian media.
  • Details about his current condition are unknown, according to the AP. Navalny's doctor says he was discharged and sent back to jail before necessary medical tests were conducted.

Of note: The "allergic reaction" is not Navalny's first physical ailment resulting from his advocacy. In 2017, a chemical attack on his face caused him to lose 80% of his vision in one eye, per his website.

Go deeper: Russian police arrest more than 1,300 protesters at Moscow rally

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Beijing and Moscow stare down pro-democracy protests

Riot police in Hong Kong. Photo: Laurel Chor/Getty Images

Emboldened pro-democracy movements are testing China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

The big picture: Beijing and Moscow have repeatedly horrified the world, but never one another, with their treatment of dissidents and protestors.

Go deeperArrowJul 29, 2019

Russian interference, 2020

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Americans are at each other's throats. Politically, socially and culturally, we suspect each other's motives and plain sanity. So certain are we of the other's intent to do the nation harm, some of us have joined political gangs and assaulted one another, resulting in at least 1 death.

Which is to say: Americans have played into Russian President Vladimir Putin's hands — again. It is assumed he can attack next year's elections if he so chooses, but since no outsider knows exactly how, what comes next is one of the great underlying mystery-dramas of the 2020 election campaign.

Go deeperArrowAug 22, 2019 - World

Trump discusses U.S.-Russia trade and Siberian wildfires with Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Trump at the G20 Osaka Summit 2019. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

President Donald Trump spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone Wednesday to discuss wildfires in Siberia and trade between the U.S. and Russia, the White House said, according to Reuters.

The big picture: The statement by White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley comes hours after the Kremlin said on its website that Putin expressed "sincere gratitude" to Trump for offering help with the wildfires, saying he may accept the offer if the situation demands it, per Radio Free Europe.