Russia: Alleged poisoning of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny must be thoroughly investigated

Amnesty International demands that the Russian authorities fully investigate the circumstances of the unexpected and critical deterioration of the health of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny and allow him to immediately be diagnosed by and receive treatment from doctors that his family trusts. The politician was hospitalized and placed in intensive care in Omsk (Siberia) on his way from Tomsk to Moscow. 

“The administration of the hospital must provide full access to information about his treatment to his family and doctors of his or their choice. There have already been reports that his chosen doctor was not allowed to see the test results and was not informed of the course of treatment. In light of assumptions about possible poisoning, this only adds to suspicions,” said Natalia Zvyagina, Director of Amnesty International’s Moscow office. 

“Given the grave allegations that have been suggested as the cause of Aleksei Navalny’s illness, there must be a prompt and independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding his hospitalization. If criminal intent is proven, those who ordered and perpetrated this crime must be brought to justice. 

“What has happened to Aleksei Navalny is undeniably similar to incidents involving other hardline critics of the Russian authorities, including the politician Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr. and Pussy Riot punk band producer Pyotr Verzilov. Aleksei Navalny himself became seriously ill previously during his administrative arrest a year ago. None of these incidents were investigated.” 


Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr., a Russian journalist and politician who lobbied the United States and the European Union to impose personal sanctions against President Vladimir Putin’s entourage, was hospitalized twice – in May 2015 and February 2017 – with symptoms of severe poisoning. Doctors indicated that the cause of poisoning was “the toxic effect of an unidentified substance”. 

Pyotr Verzilov’s doctors from the Charité clinic in Berlin, where the activist was taken for treatment after alleged poisoning in September 2018, came to the conclusion that the cause of his condition could be a substance that entered his body from outside. They were also unable to determine its nature. 

On 28 July 2019, Aleksei Navalny was hospitalized from a detention center, where he was serving so-called administrative arrest for organizing peaceful protests. The authorities claimed that the cause of the deterioration of health was an allergic reaction, but the politician himself believed that he was poisoned. No investigation into these circumstances has been reported opened. 

For further information please contact: Lucy Scholey, Media Relations, Amnesty International Canada (English branch), 613-744-7667 ext. 236,