The health of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny is deteriorating as he continues his hunger strike in prison, his lawyers said Wednesday, the administration of US President Joe Biden saying it was “disturbed” by the information.
Last Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent opponent, who is serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence for embezzlement, launched a hunger strike to demand appropriate medical treatment for severe back pain and numbness in the legs.
Members of Navalny’s defense team, who visited him on Wednesday at his penal colony in the town of Pokrov 100 kilometers east of Moscow, said he was now losing sensation in his hands and coughing. while refusing to eat.
“He looks bad, he doesn’t feel well,” lawyer Olga Mikhailova told TBEN, adding that Navalny now weighs “around 80” kilograms (176 pounds).
Navalny, who is 189 centimeters (six feet two inches), weighed 93 kilograms (205 pounds) when he arrived at his penal colony last month.
“No one is going to cure him,” Mikhailova added.
Navalny’s lawyers and allies are demanding that he be transferred to a “normal” hospital, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Navalny was not entitled to any special treatment.
Another member of the opposition political team, Vadim Kobzev, said Navalny, 44, was losing one kilogram a day.
The “ deranged ” White House
Speaking to Twitter, Kobzev said Navalny felt pain while walking and now feels numbness in his hands in addition to back pain and loss of sensation in his legs.
“It is clear that his disease is getting worse.”
In Washington, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said: “We are troubled by reports that Mr. Navalny’s health is deteriorating.”
Psaki added that Washington considers Navalny’s imprisonment “for political reasons and a grave injustice”.
Russia’s treatment of Navalny is one of the many sticking points between the new Biden administration and the Kremlin, along with concerns about Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, alleged interference in the U.S. election, and alleged bounties on US troops in Afghanistan.
The harsh approach contrasts with that of former President Donald Trump, who expressed admiration for his counterpart Putin even as his administration added sanctions.
After his lawyers visited, Navalny posted a new Instagram post, claiming that prison officials put candy in his pockets and fry chicken to taunt him.
He said authorities still refused to tell him about his diagnosis and did not allow him to be treated by a doctor of his choice.
Navalny said tens of thousands of people – both inside and outside Russian prisons – are “literally dying without medical help” and the thought bolstered his resolve.
“They are not known, no one will defend them, no one will think of them, no one will challenge this deceptive and inhumane system on their behalf,” Navalny wrote.
“And I immediately win this epic battle in which my mind stands up against the prison chicken,” he joked.
Earlier this week, Navalny said he had a cough and fever and that three members of his prison unit had been hospitalized with tuberculosis.
Navalny was arrested in January after returning from Germany, where he spent months recovering from an attack of poisoning with the nerve agent Novichok which he attributes to the Kremlin.
He is serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence for violating conditional release conditions on old fraud charges.
Human rights activists claim that the Pokrov penal colony is known for its particularly harsh conditions, and Navalny himself has called it a “concentration camp”.