Health of Russian opponent Navalny, on hunger strike, continues to deteriorate

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The health of the main Russian opponent Alexeï Navalny, imprisoned in a penal colony, ill and on hunger strike, continued to deteriorate on Wednesday with loss of feeling in his hands and weight loss.

• Read also: Supporters of Russian opponent Navalny arrested in front of his penitentiary

• Read also: Despite a fever, Navalny continues his hunger strike

• Read also: Russian opponent Navalny has lost 8 kg since arriving in prison camp

Mr. Navalny, 44, announced on March 31 that he had decided to stop eating to protest his conditions of detention in Pokrov camp number 2, 100 km east of Moscow, reputed to be one of the toughest in the country.

The anti-corruption activist accuses the prison administration of denying him access to a doctor and medication and of “torturing” him by depriving him of sleep. He had previously said he suffered from severe back pain and had lost sensitivity in both of his legs.

His lawyer, Olga Mikhailova, who was able to visit him on Wednesday, told AFP that he was continuing his hunger strike, despite a strong cough and temperature.

“He looks bad and doesn’t feel well. Nobody intends to treat him ”, she said, specifying that the opponent, who measures 1.89m, now weighed 80 kg, against 93 when he arrived at the Pokrov camp in March, and 85 in start of his hunger strike.

Another lawyer for Mr. Navalny, Vadim Kobzev, said on Twitter that the opponent lost “a kilogram a day” and was in pain when walking. “The disease is clearly progressing in terms of loss of sensitivity in the legs, palms and hands,” he wrote.

The United States said Wednesday “worried” about the information on the deterioration of the state of health of Alexei Navalny, through the voice of the spokesperson of the White House Jen Psaki. Washington has reiterated that he considers his imprisonment to have been “motivated by political reasons and flagrant injustice”.

“Inhuman system”

In a new Instagram post on Wednesday, Mr Navalny assured him that guards and prison officials put candy in his pockets and fry chicken to provoke him.

“No one will ever defend his principles and fight for his rights, (if he sees), very close, a delicious fried chicken”, he quipped, adding to drink only water as part of his hunger strike.

He further claimed that he still did not have access to a doctor of his choice and to his diagnosis, stressing that “tens of thousands” of prisoners and ordinary Russians “literally die without medical treatment”.

“They are unknown, no one will protect them, no one will remember them, no one will challenge in their place this inhuman deceptive system,” he said, referring to his motivations for continuing his hunger strike.

Alexeï Navalny speaks regularly on social networks without knowing how his messages come out of the penitentiary. He thus told Monday that an inmate of his barracks had been hospitalized for tuberculosis, the third in a few weeks, denouncing the “insalubrity”.

The relatives of Mr. Navalny demand that he be transferred to a hospital, and are all the more worried that the opponent barely survived last year a poisoning that had plunged him into a coma, and of which he accuses President Vladimir Putin of being responsible.

A group of doctors, including Mr. Navalny’s personal doctor, Anastassia Vassilieva, gathered outside the Pokrov camp on Tuesday to demand information on his condition, before being briefly arrested by the police.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Alexey Navalny was a prisoner like any other and should not be given special treatment.

Arrested in January on his return to Russia, the opponent was sentenced to two and a half years in prison in an old case of fraud that he, his supporters and many NGOs denounce as a policy, and whose judgment has been denounced by the European Court of Human Rights.