The Russian authorities have transferred this Monday the opposition leader Alexéi Navalni to a prison hospital from the penal colony where he is serving a sentence. The activist, who has been on a hunger strike for three weeks due to the government’s refusal to see a medical specialist chosen by him, will receive vitamin treatment, according to the prison service, which assured that he had the consent of the opponent, that He had denounced in recent days through his lawyers that they wanted to force-feed him. His allies believe that Navalni’s transfer means that he has worsened, although the prison authorities have assured in a statement that his condition is “satisfactory.”
In video, the high representative for the EU’s Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, affirms this Monday that the health situation of the Russian opponent Alexéi Navalni “is very worrying.”
The international community’s concern for the health of the critic with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who recovered from a near-fatal poisoning suffered last summer in Siberia and after which the West sees the Kremlin’s hand, has skyrocketed in recent days . Over the weekend, after reviewing his analyzes provided by the family, his personal doctors, who have not been able to see him, had warned that his life was in danger. The European Union has intensified its calls on Moscow to agree to Navalni receiving adequate medical treatment. Meanwhile, the United States has warned that if he dies “there will be consequences.”
Navalni, imprisoned in the severe IK-2 penal colony since mid-March, has been admitted to a hospital in another high-security prison. There, the authorities have assured, he will receive a daily visit from a doctor. The opponent, who began to complain weeks ago of severe pain in his back to which was added numbness in his legs and arms, denounced shortly after arriving in prison that those responsible for the penal colony did not allow him to receive a visit from his doctors and from a specialist chosen by him. Only the sanitary facilities of the prison or designated by the authorities have reviewed him. The opponent described the conditions and treatment as “torture.”
He has been diagnosed with a herniated disc, but the opponent and his team believe that he may also be suffering the consequences of last August’s poisoning with a military neurotoxin of the Novichok family manufactured in the former USSR, which left him in a coma for twenty days in a German hospital, where he was transferred for treatment after pressure on President Putin from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
One of Navalni’s personal doctors, Anastasia Vasilieva, director in addition to the union linked to the opposition Alliance of Doctors, questioned whether the prison for prisoners where the activist will be hospitalized is the right place. “It is not a hospital where you can make a diagnosis and prescribe a treatment for your ailments. It is a prison where tuberculosis is treated, ”said Vasilieva, who claims to see her patient.
The director of the Navalni Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), Ivan Zhdanov, declared this Monday that with the transfer of the opponent and the description of his status as “satisfactory”, the authorities continue with their policy of hiding information and want to dissuade their supporters of new demonstrations in support of the opponent. His team called for a march on Wednesday, the same day that Putin is scheduled to deliver his annual State of Russia address to the Federal Assembly. “All of this means that Navalni’s condition has become so bad that even a torture camp recognizes it,” Zhdanov said. “It is absolutely clear that from now on, before the protest, we will receive something like ‘good news’ about Alexei. [Navalni]”, The director of the FBK remarked on Twitter.
At the same pace as international calls for the Russian authorities to provide adequate attention to the opponent, the Kremlin closes ranks on addressing the case. This Monday, after requests from the EU and warnings from the US that there would be consequences if the opponent dies, President Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, stressed that “the health of the prisoners is not in the interest” of other countries . Peskov also warned that the authorities have not authorized this Wednesday’s demonstration called by Navalni supporters and that the police will intervene.
In another effort to try to curb the protest, Russia’s telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor ordered YouTube (so far to no avail) to remove a video of two of Navalni’s allies speaking on the march, claiming it urges participate in an unauthorized march.
Support from relatives of Beslán
Five relatives of the victims of the 2004 Beslan school massacre in North Ossetia, in which 330 people were killed, 180 of them children, in the brutal assault by Russian forces on the school where they were held hostage by a Chechen terrorist commando, started a hunger strike in solidarity with Navalni on Monday.
One of the mothers who started the hunger strike, Ella Kasayeva, co-president of the Voice of Beslan organization, whose daughter was among the hostages at the Number One school and was seriously injured, has pointed out that part of Russia’s future also depends on what happens now with the opponent. “To keep silent is to betray ourselves. That man [Navalni] he has been taken hostage and they are finishing him off. Our children were also taken hostage in 2004 ”, he told the newspaper Novaya Gazeta Kasayeva, one of which they struggled to obtain a 2017 conviction of Russia in the Strasbourg Human Rights Court for “serious failures” during the hostage-taking and assault.
The Beslan school siege was one of the worst crises of Vladimir Putin’s presidency, which later accelerated the signing of numerous laws that strengthened his presidency and gave the security agencies new and broad counter-terrorism powers; The repression of the independent media and of the NGOs was then intensified.
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