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Concerns grow over jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s health after lawyers allowed visit

Written by on 25/03/2021

There are growing concerns about the health of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

The 44-year-old’s lawyers were finally allowed to visit him in prison on Thursday and one of them said afterwards that Mr Navalny has been unwell for four weeks and pleas for the correct medication have been ignored by prison authorities.

Olga Mikhailova told Dozhd TV that Mr Navalny has had an MRI scan but has not been told the result, adding: “His state of health, of course, in my opinion, is extremely unfavourable, since he is experiencing severe pains in his back, in his right leg.

Mr Navalny likened the prison to a concentration camp
Image: Mr Navalny likened his prison to a concentration camp

“His shin is taken away from him, the leg is incapacitated, that is, one leg practically does not work, that is, he can neither sit on it, nothing. The right leg is in a terrible state in fact.”

In a statement released by his lawyers, Mr Navalny said his requests to see a civilian doctor had been refused and that he is deprived of sleep by prison guards, something he described as torture.

He is woken every hour during the night because authorities classify him as a flight risk.

The Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) said prisoners in the Vladimir region, where Mr Navalny is being held, were medically examined on Wednesday at their request.

More from Alexei Navalny

In a statement reported by the Interfax news agency, FSIN said Mr Navalny’s health “is deemed stable and satisfactory, according to the results of the examination”.

Mr Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation responded to this on Twitter, saying: “Now we are really worried – even the Federal Penitentiary Service can’t call Navalny’s condition ‘good’.”

Navalny is pictured with Sobol (L) and his wife Yulia on a march in Moscow earlier this year
Image: Navalny is Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken critics

The dissident’s lawyers had struggled for days to visit him, being blocked by prison authorities each time.

Earlier this week a protest was announced that will call for his release and organisers hope it will be one of the biggest anti-Kremlin demonstrations Russia has seen.

Internationally, the foreign ministers of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia wrote on Twitter that the reports about Mr Navalny’s health were “disturbing”, adding: “Access to healthcare is a basic right even of political prisoners.

“We call on the international community and (European Union leaders) to speak up too.”

Alexei Navalny and his wife Yulia pose for a selfie with their children in a video released on 31 December on his Instagram account
Image: Alexei Navalny and his wife Yulia with their children, pictured in December

The Kremlin said it was not following developments and that the matter was one for prison authorities.

Mr Navalny is probably the most outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He was arrested in January as he returned to Russia from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from what doctors said was a nerve agent poisoning.

Alexi Navalny was detained after landing at a Moscow airport.
Image: Alexei Navalny, pictured embracing his wife, was detained after landing at a Moscow airport

Last month he was jailed for two-and-a-half years for violating the terms of his probation while in Germany but he said the charges were politically-motivated.

The previous sentence comes from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that Mr Navalny has said is fabricated, and which the European Court of Human Rights has described as unlawful.

Earlier in March, Mr Navalny posted a note on social media saying he had arrived at a prison colony in Pokrov, in the Vladimir region, about 53 miles east of Moscow, which he described as “a real concentration camp”.

A number of countries, including the UK, have called for his release but the Russian government has dismissed this as interference in its internal affairs.

 Sky News

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