Navalny says continuing hunger strike despite cough and fever, risks death in prison

WION Web Team
MoscowUpdated: Apr 06, 2021, 11:04 AM IST


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In a post on his Instagram account on Monday, Navalny reported new ailment

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny risks dying in prison as he continues a hunger strike to press authorities into allowing him proper medical care.

Navalny said that he was suffering from heavy cough and fever, but would continue a hunger strike he launched last week demanding adequate medical treatment.

Also read: Kremlin critic Navalny in 'strong' pain, allies fear for his life

Navalny, 44, began refusing food on Wednesday to demand treatment for acute pain in his back that’s spreading to his legs, and an end to prison guards waking him each hour. He had already lost eight kilograms (18 pounds) in the three weeks before beginning the hunger strike, taking his weight to 85 kilograms, his supporters said.

In a post on his Instagram Monday, Navalny reported new ailments.

"I am quoting the official data from today's temperature measurement: 'Navalny A.A., strong cough, temperature 38.1'," he wrote, referring to degrees Celsius, or 100.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

"P.S. I am continuing my hunger strike, of course," Navalny said.

Later the pro-Kremlin Izvestia daily said that Navalny had been transferred to a medical unit for observation, with "signs of a respiratory problem, notably a high fever".

All the necessary tests were carried out, including a coronavirus test, the paper said, citing prison services.

There was no confirmation of such a transfer from the Navalny camp.

The opposition politician is serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence on old fraud charges, in a penal colony in the town of Pokrov some 100 kilometres (62 miles) east of Moscow known for its harsh discipline.

Doctors' protest

His latest statement from the colony comes after pro-Kremlin media on Friday launched an offensive aiming to disprove his complaints of mistreatment and lack of medical attention.

Two reports in pro-Kremlin outlets described Navalny as looking "quite normal" and saying he is incarcerated in a colony that is "practically exemplary".

In his post-Monday, Navalny said the reports had "not a single word of truth".

As evidence, he wrote that a third person out of the 15 inmates in his unit had been hospitalised with tuberculosis since his arrival at the penal colony in February.

"I am surprised that there is no Ebola virus here," he quipped, adding: "such is our 'ideal, exemplary colony'."

Navalny was arrested on his return to Russia in January, after spending months in Germany recovering from a poisoning last summer that he blames on the Kremlin.

Earlier this month, Navalny, who is considered a flight risk by authorities, filed two complaints against prison officials, saying he is woken eight times a night by guards announcing to a recording camera that he is still in his cell.

The Alliance of Doctors medical trade union said it would organise a protest outside the penal colony in Pokrov on Tuesday, demanding Navalny receive adequate medical treatment.

The group, which was branded a "foreign agent" by Russia's justice ministry last month, is headed by Navalny's doctor Anastasia Vasilyeva.

"We are going there to understand what the hell is going on at this terrible colony," she wrote on Twitter.

(With inputs from agencies)