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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Journalist Seeks U.S. Asylum

A Russian journalist is seeking asylum in the United States after being beaten and suffering kidney failure in a suspected poisoning attempt, London's Sunday Times reported.

The award-winning journalist, who has reported on events in the Caucasus, has been "promised political asylum" in the United States, the newspaper reported Sunday.

The Sunday Times did not disclose the identity of the female journalist, who claims to have been followed, harrassed and, on one occasion, beaten in connection with her publications.

Last October, an unidentified intruder broke into the journalist's apartment while she was out. Upon discovering the break-in, the journalist had a cup of coffee and went to bed. She woke up in pain the next morning.

"There was practically no skin left on my mouth, only bare flesh. The same thing happened to my fingers. My skin just started peeling off," the journalist told the Sunday Times.

She was rushed to a local hospital, where she was diagnosed with kidney failure. One month later the journalist again found herself in an intensive care unit after drinking tea and losing consciousness. She was subsequently diagnosed with an inadequate supply of blood to the heart, the Sunday Times reported.

"I have no doubt I was poisoned," said the journalist, who is to leave Russia for the United States this week.

"I live in fear," she told the Sunday Times. "I feel trapped and constantly threatened by the security services."

Under U.S. law, the journalist must wait until she arrives in the United States to apply for asylum. In her application, and a subsequent interview with an asylum officer, the journalist must prove that she meets the definition of a refugee. If her claim is denied by the officer, it would be referred to an immigration court, which would either approve the claim or deport her back to Russia.

Last year, a critic of the Kremlin and the security services died in London after being poisoned. Alexander Litvinenko, a renegade former Federal Security Service agent who fled Russia and was granted political asylum in Britain, died from exposure to polonium-210.

Litvinenko blamed Russian authorities for the poisoning shortly before his death, but produced no evidence to back up his claim. The Kremlin has denied any role. Also last year, Novaya Gazeta reporter Anna Politkovskaya was killed in an apparent contract hit.

At least one Russian journalist recently asked for political asylum. Alexander Kosvintsev, who edited a regional newspaper before taking a job with Novaya Gazeta and heading up the opposition United Civil Front in the Kemerovo region, fled to Ukraine and sought asylum there last month.

 Colleagues of Kommersant journalist Ivan Safronov, who fell to his death from a fifth-story window earlier this month, say city prosecutors are ignoring the possibility that he may have been murdered.