Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been transferred to a prison hospital, supporters and officials said yesterday, 20 days into a hunger strike that has led the United States to warn Moscow of serious repercussions if he should die in jail.
Navalny’s lawyer Alexei Liptser said after visiting him in the hospital of penal colony No. 3 in the city of Vladimir, east of Moscow, that his health was deteriorating and he had again been denied access to his own doctors.
“All the symptoms that he had before, they remain the same. Numbness in the arms and legs, back pain — they aren’t going away...The situation is only getting worse,” Liptser told Reuters.
Russia’s prison service said Navalny, 44, was in a “satisfactory” state and he was being given “vitamin therapy” with his consent.
The Kremlin said it did not have information on Navalny’s condition and it was not the role of President Vladimir Putin to monitor the health of prisoners.
Navalny’s case has further isolated Moscow at a time when US President Joe Biden’s administration has announced tougher economic sanctions and the Czech Republic, a member of Nato and the European Union, has expelled Russian spies, accusing Moscow of a role in deadly 2014 explosions at an arms storage depot.
Liptser said Navalny looked weak and thinner. He said he had been searched for two hours on arrival at the penal colony. “All that naturally has a negative effect on a starving man who already had no strength.”
Navalny ally Leonid Volkov said the transfer had taken place on Sunday, without the politician’s supporters being informed.
Ivan Zhdanov, head of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, said on Twitter the move “can only be understood to mean Navalny’s condition has worsened, and worsened in such a way that even the torturer admits it”.
The Navalny camp plans mass countrywide demonstrations tomorrow from Kaliningrad in Russia’s far west to Vladivostok on its Pacific coast.
Russian authorities, who have broken up previous allies and arrested thousands of people, said the planned protests were illegal and warned people not to take to the streets.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said what happens to Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in Russia’s custody is the responsibility of the Russian government and the world will hold them accountable.
“In the interim, our objective is of course continuing to...push for his release and reiterate our view that he must be treated humanely,” Psaki said. US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday that Washington had told Moscow “there will be consequences” if Navalny dies in prison, but did not mention specifics.
The Kremlin said yesterday it would retaliate for any further sanctions and rejected foreign countries’ statements on the Navalny case. “The state of health of those convicted and jailed on Russian territory cannot and should not be a theme of their interest,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
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