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Navalny’s doctors denied access after he was shifted to prison hospital

His humour intact, Navalny said he resembled a skeleton, could frighten children

alexei-navalny-russia-opposition-arrested-reuters File photo of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny | Courtesy of Instagram @NAVALNY/Social Media via REUTERS

With his life reportedly in danger, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was shifted to a prison hospital in Russia’s Vladimir region after he went on a hunger strike protesting conditions in his cell. With his supporters calling for nationwide protests, fearing Navalny was being slowly murdered, several doctors made efforts to visit him. However, prison officials prevented them from doing so.

Navalny had been transferred from a penal colony to a prison hospital on Sunday, after three weeks of a self-declared hunger strike. Navalny went on the strike saying the prison officials were physically and psychologically torturing him, waking him up several times at night and denying him access to medical aid despite a growing condition with his leg.

Navalny posted on Instagram, describing his condition. “You would laugh if you see me now — a skeleton staggers around his cell...They can use me to scare children who refuse to eat: ‘If you don’t eat porridge, you will be like that man with big ears, shaven head and hollow eyes.’”

He said he was glad to hear from his lawyers that there had been broad sympathy for him in Russia and abroad.

Navalny was imprisoned upon returning to Russia from a hospital in Germany, where he had spent weeks recovering from an attempt on his life. While travelling from Siberia in August 2020, he fell severely ill after being poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent. He was shifted to Germany to receive special care, where he recovered after week in coma.

Navalny, as well as an investigation by The Insider and Bellingcat, later confirmed that the Russia Federal Security Service (FSB) had been responsible for the poison attack. Navalny claimed President Vladimir Putin himself ordered his killing, though Putin himself denied it, saying if he wanted Navalny dead, “It would have been done”.

On returning from Germany, Navalny was arrested for violating parole in a suspended corruption sentencing that critics say was politically motivated. He was sent to a high-security penal colony in Vladimir, notorious for being a harsh detention centre.

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