Russia: Elvira Vikhareva, a new poisoned opponent

For a month, she no longer appears on the screen

Russia: Elvira Vikhareva, a new poisoned opponent

For a month, she no longer appears on the screen. Only his voice accompanied by a photo leads interviews with interlocutors whose faces we can still see. Thirty-two-year-old Elvira Vikhareva has a reason to be discreet: she loses her hair and eyelashes, suffers from seizures, her fingernails become deformed and her hands shake. A while ago, he also passed out.

She nevertheless continues her videos on YouTube seen by 53,000 subscribers, where exiles and dissidents express themselves. Elvira Vikhareva is not an opposition figure. Her name is unknown to the public even if, in 2021, she unsuccessfully tried to participate in the legislative elections. She is a simple citizen present for seven years at all the demonstrations and determined to continue her political fight.

In the aftermath of the outbreak of war in Ukraine, she chose to stay in Russia. A decision that cost him dearly. At the end of last year, she was presumably poisoned. Traces of potassium dichromate, a toxic substance used in inks, dyes and the cause of cancer, were found in his blood. She assumes that the product was placed in her food or drink and says she is hardly surprised. "If a person living in Russia takes an anti-war stance, he becomes enemy number one," she said on Dojd, an independent Russian television station broadcasting from abroad.

Vikhareva's case is not isolated. Poisons figure prominently on the shelves of intelligence services. The most resounding case concerns Alexei Navalny, 46, the cantor of anti-corruption, at the head of a national movement before his conviction in March 2022 to nine years in prison. Everything indicates that the FSB tried to eliminate him in the summer of 2020 by applying Novichok, a nerve agent, to his underpants during a trip to Siberia.

Another known victim: Vladimir Kara-Murza, 41, also behind bars and now threatened with twenty years in prison. A graduate of Cambridge University, a former traveling companion of the famous opponent Boris Nemtsov, assassinated in 2015, Kara-Murza survived two poisonings: the first in 2015 during a lunch in Moscow, the second in 2017, just before to take a plane back to the United States. On two occasions, he went into a coma for several weeks.

“Doctors only gave him a 5% chance of survival, his wife Evguenia told Point in June 2022, his kidneys, lungs, heart, most of his organs were damaged. He walked for a long time with a cane and had to relearn how to use a spoon. »

There is also Piotr Verzilov, 35, a close friend of the protest punk group Pussy Riot poisoned in 2018. Treated in Germany like Navalny, he temporarily lost his sight and the use of speech. The doctors were however unable to identify the toxic product ingested. Verzilov was reportedly punished for stepping on the pitch during the World Cup final in Russia in July 2018.

Finally in 2006, during Vladimir Putin's second term, a scandal broke out in Great Britain. Opponent and former spy Alexander Litvinenko dies aged 43 after drinking tea with two FSB members in a London hotel. Polonium 210, a highly radioactive substance, was allegedly poured into his drink. The British investigation concludes that the operation was "very likely" given the go-ahead by Putin.

In any case, the case of Elvira Vikhareva illustrates one thing: the use of poison, hitherto reserved for protest leaders, is becoming widespread among ordinary opponents. The person concerned, she claims to recover and does not intend to disarm. "Don't bury me, she says on Facebook, dying is not part of my plans, I'm sure those who committed this act will be punished sooner or later. »