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May 30, 3:01 AM EDT

Gravely ill Russian opposition figure won't be sent abroad


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MOSCOW (AP) -- A prominent Russian opposition figure who is being treated at a Moscow hospital for a sudden, mysterious illness won't be taken abroad for care.

Vladimir Kara-Murza was hospitalized Tuesday in a serious condition. Diagnoses have varied, with doctors saying Friday that he is suffering from kidney failure. No cause for the condition has been determined.

After the poisoning of defector Alexander Litvinenko and the mysterious deaths of other Russian opposition figures, some worry that Kara-Murza could have been poisoned. Kara-Murza was a close associate of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was assassinated in February, and works with a civic organization founded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former oil tycoon and Kremlin opponent.

His wife, Evgenia, issued a statement Thursday saying he had symptoms of poisoning and called for him to be taken to Europe or Israel for treatment.

But his father and the head doctor of the hospital said Friday he won't be sent abroad, Russian news agencies reported.

Litvinenko, a former officer of the Russian Federal Security Service, died in London in 2006 after ingesting the radioactive element polonium. He had fled to Britain in 2000, where he wrote a book claiming that security service agents had coordinated the bombings of Russian apartment buildings. The bombings were blamed on Chechen terrorists and used as a justification to launch the second war between Russian forces and separatists there.

In 2004, journalist Anna Politkovskaya fell ill on a plane as she was heading to try to help mediate the Beslan school hostage crisis, and poisoning was widely suspected. Politkovskaya was shot to death two years later.

Journalist Yuri Shchekochikhin, who had investigated the apartment bombings and alleged corruption by security service officials, also died of an unexplained illness in 2003.

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