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Navalny’s ‘doctor’, who never actually treated activist, ‘liquidated’ in secret Kremlin plot, says conspiracy-loving Western media

Navalny’s ‘doctor’, who never actually treated activist, ‘liquidated’ in secret Kremlin plot, says conspiracy-loving Western media
Western media has jumped down the rabbit hole into another Kremlin killing conspiracy after a doctor in the Siberian city of Omsk died suddenly – taking to the grave, they say, secrets about opposition figure Alexey Navalny.

On Monday, a number of outlets, including US state-run media, splashed the explosive claims that the clinician's death had been part of a cover up relating to the anti-corruption campaigner. The Sun, the UK’s best read newspaper, claimed that Sergey Maksimishin, who worked in the hospital where Navalny was treated last year, “was poisoned to stop him blabbing about a Novichok attack by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin.”

The sensational claims, however, had a shakier foundation. Journalists cited an anonymous channel on the Telegram messaging service, which is named after a general in Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence service. It had alleged “the reason for his liquidation was his readiness to share information about the treatment that he had access to.”

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A number of other news outlets including the New York Post, the Daily Mail and US government-controlled news group RFE/RL ran the claims, leaving readers to suspect that the death in unclear circumstances was part of a grand political scheme by the Kremlin.

On social media as well, the claims went viral. One tweet from US Navy veteran Travis Akers that claimed that the doctor had died “mysteriously” and “suddenly” attracted close to ten thousand likes as commenters speculated that the Kremlin was on a secret killing spree.

However, on Tuesday, Alexey Venediktov, of the liberal-leaning Echo of Moscow radio station on which Navalny has repeatedly appeared, revealed that the death might not have been as unexpected as some claimed.

According to Venediktov, citing hospital sources, “during the days that [Navalny] was being treated at the hospital, Maksimishin was on sick leave and took no part in his care.” The anonymous Telegram channel conceded that the clinician might not have seen Navalny directly, but suggested he had access to information that would warrant his targeting by shadowy forces. It is unclear how many other clinicians with a hospital computer login its authors think might have also stumbled across state secrets.

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Navalny was admitted to intensive care in Omsk after taking ill on a flight to Moscow in August. His team claim he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok in what amounted to a state-sponsored assassination attempt. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied these claims, and say Russian doctors found no trace of the poison.

The activist was later granted permission for a transfer to Berlin’s Charite hospital where international laboratories claimed his test results confirmed the presence of the lethal and uniquely rare chemical weapon.

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