Putin critic Navalny reportedly transferred to medical facility after falling ill in jail

  • Alexei Navalny has reportedly been transferred to a medical unit for respiratory problems.
  • The imprisoned Putin critic recently went on hunger strikes over claims of improper medical care.
  • Amnesty International said it’s possible Russia is subjecting Navalny “to a slow death.”
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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been transferred to a penal colony medical unit due to possible respiratory problems and fever, Reuters reported on Monday. 

Navalny received a COVID-19 test in the medical facility, according to the report, but the result remains unclear.

In his most recent Instagram post, Navalny said that three people in his prison ward were in the hospital being treated for tuberculosis. Navalny also said he had a severe cough and high temperature.

“If I have tuberculosis, then maybe it’ll chase out the pain in my back and numbness in my legs. That’d be nice,” Navalny said.

The anti-corruption campaigner and top critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin recently announced he’s going on hunger strike over claims he was being denied proper medical care in prison. Navalny has complained of acute back and leg pain while in prison, and claimed that prison guards repeatedly wake him up at night as a form of sleep deprivation. The Russian opposition figure’s legal team has alleged a “deliberate strategy is underway to undermine his health.” 

“There is a real prospect that Russia is subjecting him to a slow death,” Agnes Callamard, the secretary general of Amnesty International, told Voice of America. “He must be granted immediate access to a medical doctor he trusts and he must be freed.”

Navalny was poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok in August, and subsequently taken to Germany for medical treatment. Upon returning to Moscow in January, the Kremlin critic was promptly arrested. His detention sparked mass protests in Russia as world leaders called for Navalny’s immediate release. 

Navalny was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison on charges of violating parole over a 2014 fraud conviction, including while he was in Germany for five months receiving medical treatment after being poisoned. The sentencing was broadly viewed as political retribution and condemned by leaders worldwide. Europe’s top human rights court had also previously characterized the 2014 conviction as politically motivated.

Putin has been accused of ordering Navalny’s poisoning, an allegation the Russian leader has vehemently denied. 

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