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Kremlin critic Navalny’s health deteriorates in prison

Navalny declared a hunger strike last week and demanded proper medical attention for his severe back pain and numbness in his legs. Navalny’s lawyer, Olga Mikhailova, told independent Dozhd TV on Monday that he had lost 13 kg (almost 29 pounds) in three weeks.

Navalny joked darkly on Instagram: “If I have tuberculosis, it might banish back pain and numbness in my legs. It would be nice.”

“Of course I continue my hunger strike,” he added. “I have a law that is guaranteed by law to invite a specialist doctor at my own expense. I will not give it up, and prison doctors can trust as much as state television. ”

Yulia Navalnaya, Navalny’s wife, shared a letter Tuesday on Instagram from the director of the prison where Navalny is being held. In it, Alexander Mukhanov writes that the prison administration does not hold Navalny’s passport, so he cannot be admitted in case of illness.

Navalny survived poisoning from a nerve agent in August in what he said was an assassination attempt ordered by President Vladimir Putin. After recovering in Germany for five months, Navalny was jailed immediately after returning to Russia in January.

He was later sentenced to 2 years in prison for violating probation in a fraud case in 2014, partly because he did not report to the authorities while he was being processed in Germany.

On Friday, 30 human rights defenders signed a letter to Russia’s human rights commissioner, Tatyana Moskalkova, asking her to visit Navalny in the penal colony because “one gets the impression that he is being killed there slowly.”

A handful of Navalny supporters, including Anastasia Vasilyeva, leader of the Navalny-affiliated Alliance of Physicians, protested Tuesday outside the penal colony in the city of Pokrov, about 60 miles east of Moscow. Vasilyeva demanded access to Navalny to examine him, but was denied. She and several others, including some journalists, were later detained.

Last week, Maria Butina, who was jailed in the United States after pleading guilty in 2018 to conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent for Russia, visited Navalny’s prison department with a camera team from the Kremlin-funded RT television network , formerly Russia Today. She wrote on social media, “I am tired of the complaint. He is in one of the best penal colonies in Russia. ”

In an Instagram post on March 26, Navalny wrote that Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a prominent Russian opposition figure who spent 10 years in a penal colony, warned him: “The most important thing is not to get sick there. No one will treat you. If you get seriously ill, you will die. ”

Mary Ilyushina contributed to this report.

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