POKROV, Russia – The harsh medical treatment that Aleksei A. Navalny, a Russian opposition leader, is receiving in prison poses a deadly risk to his health, his personal doctor told reporters on Tuesday. The doctor was subsequently arrested along with several journalists.
Sir. Navalny, the prominent political opponent of President Vladimir V. Putin, is 44, and survived a poisoning with a military nerve agent last summer in which Western governments called for an assassination attempt by the Kremlin that has denied any role.
In January, he voluntarily returned to Russia after receiving treatment in Germany. Upon arrival, he was arrested at the airport for a parole in connection with a conditional sentence from 201
In recent weeks, Mr. Navalny experienced back pain and numbness in his legs, according to his social media accounts, which post under his name with information he passes on to lawyers. The lawyers said in a recent interview that they suspect that these conditions are either prolonged symptoms of the poisoning or are the result of a herniated spinal disc.
Sir. Navalny is also now almost a week on hunger strike over what his social media accounts describe as the inability of prison officials to provide him with adequate medical care.
In addition, prison doctors said Monday that Navalny showed signs of respiratory illness. According to state media, they had caused him to move into a hospital because of the penal colony, where he is serving a sentence of more than two years for violating the parole.
Sir. Navalny’s temperature rose to 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit, and he had what he described in a social media post as a severe cough.
An obvious possibility, coronavirus – known to spread easily in prisons – has not been diagnosed. Authorities have tested Mr. Navalny for the virus, the newspaper Izvestia reported. Sir. Navalny said in a social media post that he suspected tuberculosis, a common infection in Russian prisons.
Anastasia Vasilyeva, his personal doctor, told reporters on Tuesday that she was “very concerned about his health, what could happen tomorrow with his health.”
“I understand very clearly from the symptoms he has now that it can lead to a very serious condition and even to death,” she said at a checkpoint on a muddy road outside the prison chair in Pokrov, about 60 miles east of Moscow. , after guards denied her request to investigate Mr. Navalny. “This is an insane violation of human rights.”
Refusal to allow access was expected. Ms. Vasilyeva, who heads an organization of medical workers in the political opposition, the Medical Alliance, appeared outside the jail with half a dozen colleagues to demonstrate the authorities’ refusal to provide access to specialist treatment.
Their white dresses clapped in an icy wind, the doctors painted around the deserted place.
The prison, No. 2 penal colony in the Vladimir region, is surrounded by a frozen swamp. The doctors said they intended to hold a regular protest on the spot with a view to the rolled-up barbed wire of the prison wall until Mr. Navalny is receiving proper treatment. Prison authorities say they provide adequate care.
“We do not plan to stand down,” Ms Vasilyeva said. “We will come tomorrow and the day after tomorrow until they let us in and we can understand what is happening to Aleksei.”
But after their action on Tuesday, police detained Mrs. Vasilyeva, several other doctors and journalists, including a CNN correspondent, Matthew Chance. Mr. Chance was later released.
After the chemical weapons poisoning, Navalny was evacuated to Germany for treatment. The German government said it had discovered traces of Novichok, an exotic nerve agent that can be deadly to touch and that is known to be made only in Russia and formerly in the Soviet Union.
The poison was also used in the 2018 assassination of a dual agent, Sergei Skripal, in the UK, according to the UK government.
“There is nothing difficult to understand here,” said Ivan Tumanov, the director of Mr. Navalny’s movement in the Vladimir region, in an interview on Tuesday about Mr. Navalny’s deteriorating health. “Putin wants Navalny dead, so he does not allow doctors to visit.”
Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. Nearby Places Mr. Navalny, who is now well on hunger strike, they have grilled chicken, said Kira Yarmysh, Mr. Navalny’s spokeswoman on Tuesday.
Sir. Navalny’s team suggested that tuberculosis is now a major issue. While it is mostly a faded threat in developed countries and can be treated in its usual form with antibiotics, the disease is a long-term killer in Russian prisons.
Skin-thin, exhausted men fill the tuberculosis wards. And harsh conditions have created new strains specific to Russian penal colonies, alarming global health experts for years now.
Trying to spend time in the hospital to avoid violence from other inmates, prisoners will sometimes try to get sick on purpose or prolong the duration of their illness by refusing to take the full course of antibiotics or by exchanging saliva.
The result, say experts in infectious diseases, is a spread of forms of tuberculosis that are resistant to antibiotics.
Sir. Navalny’s social media accounts said on Monday that three inmates in his barracks had been admitted due to tuberculosis.