A friend of a leading Russian opposition politician gunned down outside the Kremlin was admitted to hospital after being poisoned, it was claimed last night.
Vladimir Kara-Murza was taken ill on Tuesday at the offices of a state-owned legal news agency and rushed to hospital. His condition was last night said to be critical.
A family friend and opposition activist told the Telegraph that the 33-year-old was poisoned with an unknown substance.
Andrei Bystrov, an opposition activist and friend of the Kara-Murza family, said: ‘Doctors have just confirmed that he was poisoned.
‘As to what with, they can’t say yet. It could be anything.’
Mr Kara-Murza is a prominent ally of Boris Nemtsov, a critic of Vladimir Putin who was killed earlier this year by a drive-by shooter.
Alexei Svet, chief doctor at the hospital where Mr Kara-Murza was being treated, told Interfax that the opposition activist was likely suffering from severe pneumonia and inflammation of the pancreas.
Inflammation of the pancreas can arise as the result of poisoning, but Mr Svet did not say what had caused the condition.
He did say though that it was unlikely to be the result of an ‘outside element’.
The Kremlin and its security forces deny involvement in a long line of political killings, from the high-profile poisoning of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006 to the assassination of Mr Nemtsov in February.
Mr Kara-Murza worked on the release of an opposition report into the presence of Russian troops in east Ukraine.
The report was begun by Mr Nemtsov before his murder, and alleged Russia had lost at least 220 soldiers since the start of fighting in east Ukraine in April 2014.
Mr Kara-Murza was most recently involved in the production of a documentary film about Chechnya’s strongman leader, Ramzan Kadyrov.
The 30-minute documentary, released on Monday, alleged the involvement of Mr Kadyrov, a former rebel fighter who went over to the Kremlin in 2000, in widespread murders and torture in the volatile North Caucasus republic.
The documentary was produced by Open Russia, a pressure group funded by Mikhail Khordokovsky, a former Russian oligarch and bitter critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.