Navalny allegedly began his ‘hunger strike’ to protest being refused permission to see a doctor of his choice for his leg pains. He has been complaining of health problems since late March, when his lawyers claimed that he was losing sensation in one of his limbs as well as being deprived of sleep by prison guards, a practice they labelled “torture.”
Last week, a group of medics linked to his Anti-Corruption Fund (FBK) warned that his most recent lab results were “negative” and could lead to kidney failure and issues with his cardiovascular system. His allies also theorized that he may have tuberculosis, but did not provide any evidence to support their claims.
Meanwhile, according to the Federal Penitentiary Service, Navalny is being examined daily, has been prescribed vitamins and is currently in a “satisfactory” state of health. The hospital he has been transferred to is a specialized facility on the territory of Penal Colony 3, in the city of Vladimir, around 180 kilometers east of Moscow.
Supporters of the activist have come out against the move, and are demanding he sees medical professionals of his own choice. However, in Russia, as in most other countries, this is not standard practice.
The director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), Ivan Zhdanov, who is based abroad, says the transfer is proof that his condition has worsened. The FBK is registered by Russia’s Ministry of Justice as a foreign agent.
With Navalny’s health supposedly getting worse, his aides have announced nationwide protests, to be held on Wednesday. His team had promised to hold a rally when 500,000 people signed up to his website, but the plans were brought forward when it was clear the figure wouldn’t be hit in the near future, as the group’s campaign lost momentum.
Last week, Moscow Prosecutor’s Office asked the capital’s City Court to declare the FBK and Navalny’s network of regional headquarters as extremist organizations.
In 2014, Navalny was given a five-year suspended sentence after being found guilty of embezzling 30 million rubles ($400,000) from two companies, including the French cosmetics brand Yves Rocher, in a case he claims was politically motivated. The judgment was also condemned by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which called the conviction “arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable.” In February, he was found to have breached the terms of his suspended sentence and was sent to jail.
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