‘Seriously ill’ Alexei Navalny can expect no special treatment, says Kremlinavril 6, 2021
The Kremlin has said it has no plans to change its hardline approach to Alexei Navalny, even as fears for the health of the jailed Putin critic grew amid news of a hospital admission and close contact with tuberculosis.
“One prisoner can’t receive special treatment,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday. “There are rules, and the prisoner will be offered treatment according to the rules.”
The spokesman refused to confirm if Vladimir Putin had received a letter from the incoming chief of Amnesty International, effectively accusing the Kremlin of killing off its prominent rival.
In a tweet published on Monday, Agnes Callemard demanded that Mr Navalny be freed and seen by a doctor of his choice. “There is a real prospect that Russia is subjecting him to a slow death,” she wrote.
On Monday, prison officials admitted Mr Navalny, 44, had been transferred to a prison medical facility after developing “severe respiratory illness” and a high temperature.
In a social media post relayed via lawyers, the opposition leader claimed that a number of inmates of the colony had been taken ill with tuberculosis. Prison authorities denied there being any problem.
Lawyers for the Kremlin critic said he was already “seriously ill” and in acute need for specialised medical care even before the latest developements.
Mr Navalny has for several weeks complained of severe back pain and numbness in both limbs, which, he claims, have increased under “torture” by deliberate sleep deprivation. His associates say the complaints are all the more serious given possible lingering effects of his August nerve agent poisoning.
Prison officials have refused Mr Navalny’s requests to be seen by an independent doctor — even after sanctioning two visits by state journalists to the Pokrov colony without his permission. On 31 March, the opposition leader announced a hunger strike over the continuing refusal, saying he trusted prison doctors as much as he did state TV journalists.
Mr Navalny said he would continue his hunger strike “regardless” of any possible TB diagnosis. Tuberculosis might even offer respite to his existing ailments, he joked: “Fight fire with fire.”
On Tuesday, a group of supporters and sympathetic doctors made their way to the Pokrov colony to demand a meeting with the prison governor. Every minute Mr Navalny was denied medical treatment risked exacerbating post-Novichok nerve problems right up to a repeat coma, Anastasia Vasilyeva, the leader of the group, warned.
“We aren’t going to Pokrov to protest, but to save his life,” she said.
In the event, Ms Vasilyeva did not get her chance to speak to prison bosses, and was arrested soon after arriving at the prison gates.