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Russian activist ‘poisoned, possibly by nerve agent’ while on trip to Europe | World News


The head of an international organisation fighting for democracy in Russia says she thinks she was “poisoned, possibly by some nerve agent”.

Natalia Arno experienced “strange symptoms” while on a recent trip to Europe and on one occasion found the door to her room open when she returned to her hotel.

A post on Ms Arno’s social media says she woke up at 5am the next day in acute pain and decided to fly home to the US on the nearest flight, where she has been recovering.

While it is not yet confirmed what caused her condition, the post says it is being investigated – it’s a story that conjures up memories of the Novichok poisonings of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny and five people in Salisbury in 2018.

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Ms Arno, who was forced to leave Russia due to her pro-democracy work, founded the Free Russia Foundation in 2014.

Her Facebook post says she was visiting two European cities in late April and early May when the symptoms started.

“In the second city, after a busy day of discussions and meetings, I returned to my hotel in the evening and found the door to my room slightly open,” the post says.

“I checked my belongings and the room, I did not find any bugs, but immediately felt a foreign and sharp smell of cheap perfumes in the room.”

She left the hotel to attend a meeting and when she returned the smell of perfume had gone.

Image:
Five people – including former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal – were poisoned in Salisbury in March 2018

Ms Arno says in her post that she complained to the receptionist who said the maid had forgotten to close the door.

At 5am the next morning she woke up in “acute pain” with “strange symptoms”. She swapped her flights and took an early trip back home to the US.

“During the flight, the symptoms became very strange, walking all over the body and with vivid numbness.”

She went to an emergency room “getting worse” and various doctors took blood samples, the post says.

Alexei Navalny
Image:
Alexei Navalny, a well-known critic of Vladimir Putin, was poisoned with Novichok and recovered. He is now in prison in Russia

Read more:
The Salisbury spy poisonings five years on
‘Share your secrets about Ukraine war’, CIA tells Russians

Now two weeks later, she feels “much better” but still has some neuropathy symptoms, the post says, as she waits for the results of “various investigations” into what happened.

She wrote: “As far as I understand it, this is not the first story of possible poisoning of Russian journalists and activists.

“And this is not the first case with an open door in a hotel when ‘the maid forgot to close it’.

“I thought it was important to tell in more detail, because I wanted to warn our exiled anti-war, anti-regime, pro-democracy Russian community that we should not lose vigilance, even after leaving Russia, from a country that is waging an aggressive war against Ukraine… and does not forget about us.”



This story originally appeared on Skynews

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