On the morning of May 26, 2015, Kara-Murza had breakfast at a Moscow café and then headed to a meeting with Mikhail Yastrubitsky. During the meeting, Kara-Murza suddenly became ill.
Yastrubitsky called an ambulance. A woman passing by happened to be a doctor. After examining Kara-Murza, she speculated he’d been poisoned. He was brought to Davydovsky Hospital, where the doctors diagnosed him with heart failure.
Kara-Murza grew even more ill and was transferred to intensive care. Nobody understood the nature of his poisoning. He experienced multiple organ failure and fell into a coma. The doctors estimated
his chances of survival to be five percent.
But survive he did. Kara-Murza spent over a month in the hospital. He came out of the coma and began the long process of recovery. His peripheral nervous system had been damaged, and he couldn’t move his left arm and leg. In July 2015, he was brought to the United States for rehabilitation. Khodorkovsky paid for his evacuation and treatment.
A month and a half after returning to America, Kara-Murza still had difficulty speaking. But he wanted to return to Russia at the first opportunity to continue his work — and he did so as soon as he was able. In November 2015, Kara-Murza, still walking with a cane, boarded a plane for the first time since being poisoned.
“We, in general, didn’t understand, didn’t imagine, didn’t assume that something so horrible could happen,” Yastrubitsky said. “We ended our conversation and as we left, [Kara-Murza] was already lying in the corridor on some chairs. He had terrible vomiting, had to run to the toilet every five minutes.”
An operation was scheduled for the following morning. But right before it began, the well-known cardiac surgeon Mikhail Alshibaya stopped the doctors. “What are you doing? There’s nothing wrong with the heart, it’s poisoning!” Kara-Murza’s lawyer Vadim Prokhorov recalled Alshibaya saying.