- The Washington Times - Friday, March 3, 2017

A Russian opposition figure who recently emerged from a coma after experiencing sudden organ failure for the second time in two years believes President Vladimir Putin’s regime responsible for both near-death experience.

Vladimir Kara-Murza, a pro-Democracy crusader and one of Mr. Putin’s fiercest critics, became critically ill while in Moscow last month and within hours was diagnosed with organ failure and placed on life support.

The incident was hardly the activist’s only brush with death, and was nearly identical to an episode less than two years earlier in which he was hospitalized with similar conditions upon being mysteriously poisoned.

As with last time, Mr. Kara-Murza believes he was nearly killed by the Kremlin. Speaking to NBC News for the first time since waking up from a medicated coma, the staunch Putin critic said he believes Russian intelligence officials poisoned him last month during what he described as a second unsuccessful attempt at his life.

“Given the sophistication of the poison, and it seems to be very sophisticated, because first of all, we don’t know what it is, and secondly that, you know, when it methodically shuts down all of your organs one after another within the space of a few hours, that’s sophisticated,” he told NBC News in an interview scheduled to air Friday. “Given that, and given that I have no idea how or where it happened, so the way it was done was also sophisticated, I can only presume, that this, this was done by people, with at least, with connections to the Russian Special Services.

“And as for the reason, this is what I really do have no doubt about,” he said. “This is because of, uh, my involvement in the Russian opposition.”

Accusations involving the Russian government’s potential involvement in last month’s hospitalization emerged instantly given the activist’s past episode, but were rejected by Moscow.

“It’s pure nonsense to make any connection of this unfortunate case with President Putin,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN last month.

Mr. Putin’s government has been repeatedly attributed with targeting the president’s opponents, including political activists, human rights workers and journalists, but has denied attempting to silence his critics.

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly called Mr. Putin “a killer” during an television interview last month with U.S. President Trump, prompting the Kremlin’s press secretary to call those allegations “unacceptable, insulting.”

“He’s a killer though. Putin’s a killer,” the interviewer told Mr. Trump.

“There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think? Our country’s so innocent?” Mr. Trump responded.

Mr. Kara-Murza’s conversation with Richard Engel is scheduled to air during Friday evening’s episode of “NBC Nightly News.”

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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