Jailed Putin Opponent Navalny Says His Health Is Worsening

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Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny said he is suffering severe back pain despite prison officials’ assurances that he’s in a satisfactory condition.

“I consider the deterioration in my health is a direct result of the actions and inactions of prison officials, deliberately aimed at refusing me necessary medical care and ruining my health,” he wrote in letters to prison and judicial authorities posted on his website by allies Thursday. “I regard what’s happening as an abuse.”

Navalny demanded access to a Moscow specialist and an end to prison guards waking him every hour during the night. He has “practically lost the use” of his right leg and is in “terrible pain,” Olga Mikhailova, one of his lawyers, told TV Rain after visiting him in prison earlier Thursday.

President Vladimir 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.

Navalny said he was taken for a scan Wednesday but not informed of the results and given only two pain-relief tablets a day.

The regional Penitentiary Service said Navalny had been examined with other inmates with health complaints on Wednesday and found to be in “stable, satisfactory” condition, the state-run Tass news service reported.

Navalny’s wife, Yulia, appealed to Putin to release him in an Instagram post Thursday in which she also said that prison officials had refused to allow lawyers to pass on exercise instructions from a back specialist to help her husband reduce the pain.

The penal colony holding 44-year-old Navalny is known for its particularly harsh regime. He’s serving a 2 1/2 year sentence for violating probation terms of an earlier suspended fraud sentence in a case that the European Court of Human Rights has called politically motivated.

His supporters have called for a day of rallies across Russia this spring. Nationwide protests that erupted in January following Navalny’s detention petered out after a major crackdown that led to thousands of arrests.

Navalny’s allies say 250,000 anonymous entries have been made on a petition from people who’ve pledged to take part in the new demonstrations calling for his release, out of a targeted 500,000.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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