Jailed Putin Foe Navalny ‘Lost 8 Kilograms’ Before Hunger Strike

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Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has lost eight kilograms (17.6 pounds) in weight in three weeks, even before he started a hunger strike, his allies said.

Navalny, 44, began refusing food on Wednesday to pressure prison authorities to provide him with medical care for acute pain in his back and legs. He blames his weight loss from 93 to 85 kilograms on the fact that guards wake him every hour at night, his team said on his Twitter account Thursday.

Navalny accuses prison officials of refusing him access to a specialist and medicines to treat his deteriorating condition. The prison service denied he’s being woken eight times a night and said he is getting the necessary medical assistance.

The decision to declare a hunger strike marks an escalation in Navalny’s confrontation with President Vladimir Putin, who faced questions about the opposition leader in a phone call Tuesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Putin’s most outspoken critic has been held at the notorious IK-2 prison about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Moscow since March 11. He was imprisoned for breaching parole while recovering in Germany from a near-fatal nerve-agent poisoning in Siberia last year that he and Western governments have blamed on the Kremlin. Russian authorities deny involvement.

Russia has rejected Western calls to free Navalny and brushed aside criticism of his treatment inside prison.

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