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Opposition activist Alexei Navalny talks to the media after being released following 30 days of detention in July 2019. Photo: Dmitry Serebryakov/TASS via Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is in the intensive care unit of a Siberian hospital after being left unconscious from a poisonous toxin believed to have been mixed in his tea, his press secretary, Kira Yarmash, tweeted Thursday.

Why it matters: The anti-corruption lawyer is the face of Russia's domestic opposition to President Vladimir Putin. His activism has led to him being targeted by authorities in raids and jailed dozens of times. Navalny was hospitalized in 2019 after his doctor said he was poisoned with "undefined chemical substances."

Details: Yarmash said Navalny felt ill on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow and the plane made an emergency landing in the city of Omsk, where he was taken to hospital, per a Twitter translation.

  • "We assume that Alexei was poisoned with something mixed into the tea," her statement said. "It was the only thing that he drank in the morning. Doctors say the toxin was absorbed faster through the hot liquid. Alexey is now unconscious."
  • An Omsk Emergency Hospital spokesperson described the 44-year-old's condition to Russian news agency Tass as "serious."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Sep 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden's hardline Russia reset

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Getty Images photos: Mark Reinstein

When he talks about Russia, Joe Biden has sounded like Ronald Reagan all summer, setting up a potential Day 1 confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin if Biden were to win.

Why it matters: Biden has promised a forceful response against Russia for both election interference and alleged bounty payments to target American troops in Afghanistan. But being tougher than President Trump could be the easy part. The risk is overdoing it and making diplomacy impossible.

Afghanistan's president coming to Washington on Friday

Ashraf Ghani, left, president of Afghanistan, and Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

As the U.S. troop withdrawal accelerates, President Biden will welcome Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, at the White House on Friday.

Our thought bubble: Axios politics editor Glen Johnson, who traveled to Afghanistan while working for Secretary of State John Kerry, said inviting both Ghani and Abdullah to Washington shows the administration’s respect for the delicate balance of power in the country.

Educators face fines, harassment over critical race theory

People talk before the start of a rally against critical race theory being taught in schools at the Loudoun County Government center in Leesburg, Va. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Elementary school teachers, administrators and college professors are facing fines, physical threats, and fear of firing because of an organized push from the right to remove classroom discussions of systemic racism.

Why it matters: Moves to ban critical race theory are raising free speech concerns amid an absence of consistent parameters about what teachings are in or out of bounds.