So was Navalny poisoned or not?

When the news first broke concerning Russian anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny’s plane making an emergency landing yesterday, the situation looked fairly easy to suss out. The high-profile Putin critic had been poisoned, right? And that’s precisely what his spokesperson said. He was in a Siberian hospital, with some reports saying he was in a coma and fighting for his life. But as the hours dragged on, we were informed that the doctors had checked him out and there was no sign of poisoning. So what gives? Was this a case of Rapid Onset COVID? (Don’t bother Googling. I just made that up.) The Russian doctors are blaming it on (wait for it…) low blood sugar. (Sky News)

Russian doctors say there is no evidence Alexei Navalny was poisoned – and have put his condition down to metabolic disease caused by low blood sugar.

The long-time critic of President Vladimir Putin is fighting for his life on a ventilator after drinking tea that allies believe was laced with poison…

Speaking to reporters on Friday, deputy chief doctor Anatoly Kalinichenko at Omsk hospital said that as of today, no traces of poison were found in Mr Navalny’s body.

I’m no doctor, but anyone who listened to the video that I posted yesterday of Navalny howling in pain from inside the airplane restroom might have some questions about this being a case of someone with low blood sugar. What they’re describing is more specifically known as hypoglycemia and yes, it can be serious. But it’s almost always caused by a failure to properly administer medicine for diabetes. Is Navalny even diabetic? An admittedly quick search this morning didn’t turn up any indication that he’s been dealing with that condition, but I suppose it’s possible that it just wasn’t seen as being newsworthy. Still… this sounds rather unlikely.

While we’re on the subject, one item I speculated about yesterday turned out to be incorrect. Navalny didn’t order his tea on the plane. (The only thing he supposedly had to eat or drink all morning.) There’s a picture of him sipping the cup of tea at the gate so it looks like he picked it up in the airport. In that case, the possible circle of suspects widens considerably if we’re still assuming he was poisoned.

His spokeswoman is sticking with the poisoning line and adding a new twist to it. Reports indicate that a plane was scheduled to fly to Siberia, pick up Navalny and take him to Germany for treatment. But the Russians doctors currently treating him have refused permission to have him moved. The medical team says he’s not up to travel at this point while the spokeswoman claims the doctors caved to pressure from Moscow to keep him where he is. (Fox News)

Russian doctors refused to authorize opposition politician Alexei Navalny’s transfer to a German hospital from the Siberian city of Omsk on Friday…

“The chief doctor said that Navalny is non-transportable. (His) condition is unstable. Family’s decision to transfer him is not enough,” Navalny spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh tweeted.

Alright, let’s try one more trip down the rabbit hole here, shall we? Assuming we want to give a huge benefit fo the doubt to the Kremlin, it’s impossible to deny that the story being told by the doctors at the Siberian hospital could be possible. Navalny was in a lot of distress on the plane (obviously) so there was something wrong with him medically. And if they’re being honest about him being effectively in a coma and on a respirator, moving him to the airport and putting him on a plane could indeed be dangerous. It’s estimated to be a six-hour flight from the hospital in Omsk to Berlin. That’s a lot to put someone on a ventilator through.

But then, there’s the “c’mon, man” factor to consider. Navalny will be gone soon enough, one way or the other, but those doctors are going to be stuck in that hospital for a long time. Is it so hard to imagine that the activist’s spokeswoman is correct and they had either a phone call or a visit from someone in the KGB shortly after their patient arrived? You can picture what the conversation might have sounded like. (You’ll have to imagine me saying this in a truly awful Boris Badenov accent.)

The President is very concerned about the welfare of our good friend Mr. Navalny. Not to mention your excellent hospital and your promising careers here. He’s much better off under your care than some strangers in Germany, wouldn’t you agree? Oh, and the President wouldn’t want you to rush into some quick announcement about the toxicology test results. These things can be tricky. You wouldn’t want to put out a report about him testing positive for poison only to find out later that you’d made a terrible mistake. Would you?

I’m not longer at 100% certainty about what happened to Navalny, I’ll confess. Yes, it stinks to high heaven, but people do suddenly fall ill sometimes at less than ideal locations such as when they’re traveling. It’s still possible that the official story being put out is true. But man… it’s a tough line to swallow.