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Election volunteers seek medical help after attack on Navalny’s Novosibirsk office

Source: Meduza

Alexey Navalny’s branch in Novosibirsk has reported an attack on its office, which is also the campaign headquarters for the opposition coalition “Novosibirsk 2020.” 

Politicians and civil society activists in Novosibirsk signed an agreement establishing a coalition ahead of this year’s city council elections. The coalition is being led by the head of Navalny’s local branch, Sergey Boyko, and its nominees is running against members of the ruling party, United Russia, and the nominal opposition Communist Party (KPRF). The elections are scheduled for September 13, Russia’s unified voting day. 

During a training session for election monitors on the morning of September 8, a man — whose face was hidden by a hood and protective mask — ran into the room, smashed a 200-milliliter (approximately 7-ounce) bottle containing a pungent liquid, and then ran away, said the head of Navalny’s Novosibirsk branch, Sergey Boyko. The attacker shouted “Faggots,” recalls volunteer Artem Yaumbaev, who was injured during the attack. Another person involved in the attack waited for his accomplice on the street — he held the office door open and the two ran away together, as can be seen in a video recording from the office’s security camera.

Sergey Boyko said that according to local police, the bottle smashed in the office contained “some kind of ASD-fraction” — an antiseptic drug used in veterinary medicine. Navalny’s Novosibirsk office initially reported that the bottle contained hydrogen sulfide, which “smells disgusting.” 

Three volunteers sought medical assistance following the incident, said Artem Yaumbaev, who became ill 20–30 minutes after the attack. Initially, he complained of nausea and a headache, but when his condition improved slightly he “felt as if [his] face was running down, like when they numb a tooth.” The victims also complained of dizziness, and experienced convulsions, and fever. 

Yaumbaev said that at the hospital, the doctors’ attitudes towards the victims changed after they conveyed that they worked for Alexey Navalny’s office. According to him, the hospital’s staff told the victims they were “just getting nervous.” Medical workers initially refused to examine another victim, Anna Kiseleva, but were later persuaded to treat her. When the volunteers were discharged from the hospital, Kiseleva said that according to the doctors, the three victims fell ill due to various chronic conditions. 

“Poisoning on the sly is already a classic scheme in the fight against political opponents. Today our headquarters was attacked. We are not afraid and will not give up — Coalition Novosibirsk 2020”
Novosibirsk 2020

Regional police officials told RBK that they are clarifying accounts of the incident. 

On August 20, opposition figure and anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny was hospitalized in serious condition. He fell ill on board a flight from Tomsk to Moscow, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in Omsk. Navalny was put into a medically induced coma. Two days later, he was medevaced to the Charité Hospital in Berlin for further treatment. On September 2, German officials confirmed that Navalny was poisoned with a substance from the Novichok group of nerve agents. On September 7, the German doctors reported that Navalny had been brought out of his induced coma. 

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Text by Alexander Baklanov

Translation by Eilish Hart 

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