Europe

Navalny must be transferred to a civilian hospital, says his lawyer

Alexei Navalny”s lawyer has called for him to be transferred to a Moscow hospital amid concerns for his health.

The 44-year-old has been on a hunger strike for three weeks and was transferred from a prison east of Moscow to a prison hospital in Vladimir on Sunday.

His associates say his condition has dramatically worsened in recent days.

“He is very weak, he has difficulty sitting up and talking,” his lawyer Olga Mikhailova told reporters.

“[He is] not receiving proper medical help”, she added and demanded his “transfer to a civilian hospital” in the Russian capital.

But on Tuesday, several doctors including Navalny’s personal physician say they were turned away from the prison hospital entrance.

Dr Anastasia Vasilyeva said they were denied entry after waiting for hours outside the gates.

Navalny began his hunger strike on March 31 to protest against the prison officials’ refusal to let his doctors visit him and provide adequate treatment for his back pains and numbness in his legs.

Russia’s penitentiary service insists that Navalny was getting all the medical help he needs and has described his condition as “satisfactory”.

But relatives of the Kremlin critic have warned that he could die at any moment, comments which have drawn international condemnation.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said is “extremely concerned” and that the German government was “working to ensure that he receives proper medical care”.

Navalny was arrested in January upon his return from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from a nerve agent poisoning he blames on the Kremlin, an accusation Russian officials have rejected.

A Moscow court ordered him to serve 2 and 1/2 years in prison on a 2014 fraud charge, widely seen as politically motivated. The European Court of Human Rights has described his conviction as “arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable”.

His arrest triggered the biggest protests seen across Russia in recent years

In response to Navalny’s deteriorating health, his associates have once again called for nationwide rallies on Wednesday, during Russia’s President Vladimir Putin annual state of the nation address.

But Moscow has warned that it will not allow any “destabilisation” and will take “all necessary measures” against the planned demonstrations.

Russian authorities, meanwhile, have escalated their crackdown on Navalny’s supporters, by asking a court to brand his Foundation for Fighting Corruption as an extremist organisation.

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