The head of a Russian international organisation that fights for democracy believes she has been “poisoned” by a nerve agent.
Natalia Arno, a woman from Italy, experienced “strange” symptoms during a recent European trip. She found her room door open on more than one occasion when she returned to the hotel.
A social media post by Ms Arno says that she woke at 5am in the morning with acute pain. She decided to fly back to the US on the first flight available, where she is recovering.
The cause of her condition is still unknown, but the post states that it is under investigation. This story brings to mind the Novichok poisonings in Salisbury of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny in 2018 and of five other people.
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Ms Arno was forced to leave Russia because of her work for democracy. She founded the Free Russia Foundation, in 2014.
In a Facebook post, she says that the symptoms began when she visited two European cities between late April and early may.
The post states: “In the second town, after a long day of meetings and discussions, I returned home to find my hotel room door slightly open in the evening.”
I checked my possessions and the hotel room. There were no bugs. However, there was a strong and foreign smell of cheap perfumes.
She went to a meeting at the hotel and returned afterward with no perfume smell.
Ms Arno writes in her blog that she complained to receptionist, who told her the maid forgot to close the door.
She woke up at 5am with “strange” symptoms and “acute pain”. She changed her flight and flew home early to the US.
The symptoms were very bizarre, with numbness and walking in all directions.
The post states that she went to the emergency room because her condition was getting worse and doctors took blood tests.
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The post states that two weeks after the incident, the woman feels “much improved” but still suffers from some neuropathy symptoms. She is waiting for the results of various investigations into what happened.
She wrote: As far as I can tell, this isn’t the first report of possible poisonings of Russian journalists and activists.
“This is not the only case where a door was left open in a hotel because ‘the maid forgot’ to close it.
“I felt it important to give more details, because I wanted our anti-war, antiregime and pro-democracy Russian exiles to be warned that even after leaving Russia we shouldn’t lose vigilance from a nation that is waging a war of aggression against Ukraine…and does not forget us.”