An opposition protester demonstrates his poem devoted to the case of alleged poisoning of a known opposition figure Alexei Navalny in front of a hospital of emergency medical care -1 in Omsk, Russia, 20 August 2020. EFE-EPA/FILE/MAXIM KARLAYEV

3 Kremlin-critic Russian journalists allegedly poisoned abroad since 2022

Berlin, Aug 16 (EFE).- An investigative report by the Russian online portal The Insider has alleged that three Russian journalists known for their anti-Kremlin stances might have been poisoned in foreign countries.

The report said the three women journalists suffered mysterious illnesses, but it did not say definitively that the poisoning could have been the cause of their sicknesses.

The report from The Insider, which was republished by the German weekly “Der Spiegel,” said several experts, including a doctor who saved the life of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, suggested that “exogenous poisoning” could be the most plausible explanation for their symptoms.

The Russian investigative journalistic outlet, associated with the opposition and banned within Russia, focuses on the cases of Elena Kostyuchenko, Natalia Arno, and Irina Babloyan.

Kostyuchenko was covering the Ukraine war in March 2022 while stationed in Zaporizhzhia. She received warnings from her colleagues and Ukrainian intelligence sources that Chechen units at Russian checkpoints had been instructed to target her.

She relocated to Berlin and began working at Meduza in late September. While in Munich in October of the same year, she experienced sudden discomfort before returning to the German capital.

Medical examinations revealed elevated liver enzyme levels and blood in her urine. Doctors advised her to undergo toxin tests at Berlin’s Charité Hospital, the same facility, where Navalny had received treatment for Novichok nerve-agent poisoning in 2020.

Medical professionals and poison specialists consulted by The Insider concurred that exogenous poisoning was the most likely cause of Kostyuchenko’s symptoms.

Arno, the head of the Free Russian Foundation, encountered a suspicious incident in Prague on May 2, 2023.

After attending a private event, she smelt an unusual perfume scent in her hotel room.

Later that night, she woke up feeling numbness, bodily pain, and blurry vision.

Returning to her residence in Washington, D.C., Arno sought medical consultation.

While the results of her toxicology tests remain undisclosed, doctors informed her that she had been exposed to a neurotoxic substance, as reported by The Insider.

Babloyan, a former employee of Ekho Moskvy, allegedly fell victim to poisoning in Tbilisi in October 2022.

While staying at a hotel in Yerevan, she experienced symptoms including stomach pain, nausea, insomnia, and a metallic taste in her mouth.

After a few months, Babloyan relocated to Berlin and underwent toxicology testing at Charité Hospital.

However, her initial blood samples were reported as “lost,” and she was asked to provide a second sample.

The Insider noted that the symptoms experienced by Babloyan did not correspond convincingly to any known medical condition, leading them to conclude that exogenous poisoning could be the cause. EFE