Russian Kremlin critic hospitalised on life support

Russian Kremlin critic hospitalised on life support

Moscow (AFP) - A Russian opposition politician and well-known Kremlin critic was in intensive care Thursday following organ failure in a sudden illness, two years after suffering a suspected poisoning, supporters said.

Vladimir Kara-Murza was on a ventilator and undergoing "renal dialysis and other intensive care procedures," lawyer Vadim Prokhorov wrote on Facebook late Thursday.

Kara-Murza was in a "critical state," he said.

The 35-year-old Kara-Murza was an ally of the late opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead close to the Kremlin in 2015.

Until last year he was deputy chairman of the Parnas liberal party led by former prime minister turned Kremlin critic Mikhail Kasyanov.

He now works as the federal coordinator for the Open Russia foundation of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former oil tycoon who served a decade in jail after openly opposing President Vladimir Putin.

Kara-Murza was hospitalised in 2015 and diagnosed with acute kidney failure in connection with poisoning and tests found high levels of heavy metals in his blood.

He asked Russia's Investigative Committee to probe whether he had suffered intentional poisoning but no criminal case was opened.

"The symptoms are apparently similar to those that were then," Prokhorov told Interfax news agency Thursday.

The reasons for the activist's sudden illness were not clear to doctors, he added.

Asked by the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily if poisoning was suspected, Kara-Murza's father said from the hospital that the doctors "do not think so."

"It's just that the poisoning two years ago didn't pass without a trace. My son's health is weakened," said Kara-Murza's father, who is also called Vladimir.

Kara-Murza's illness drew the attention of several US lawmakers, including Senator John McCain, a longtime national security hawk who said he was "heartbroken" to hear of his friend's hospitalisation and demanded those responsible be brought to justice.

Senator Marco Rubio and others framed it as a test for the administration of US President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly stated he wants closer ties with Putin and the Kremlin.

"I urge the Trump administration, including Secretary of State Tillerson, to make Kara-Murza's cause America's cause, question Russian authorities about this, and ultimately hold Putin accountable if (Kara-Murza) was targeted by the regime," Rubio said.

House Democrat Steny Hoyer said the "possible poisoning only makes the case for tough sanctions against the Russian leadership stronger."

Trump aides have said the president is re-considering the existing sanctions regime.

Kara-Murza fell ill Thursday morning and was urgently hospitalised, his wife Yevgeniya was quoted as saying on Open Russia's website.

In Open Russia, Kara-Murza has carried out projects including backing a group of young opposition politicians to stand in last year's parliamentary elections.

Khodorkovsky wrote on Twitter that Kara-Murza "is in the hands of a good doctor. Let him work!"

In 2016 Chechen strongman and Kremlin loyalist Ramzan Kadyrov prompted outrage by posting a video on Instagram of Kara-Murza and Parnas party leader Kasyanov in the cross hairs of a sniper scope.

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