Starving Navalny rushed to hospital

The world’s most prominent Kremlin critic is fighting for his life in hospital after a three-week hunger strike left him “actively dying” in prison.

Russian guards have finally transferred Alexei Navalny to a prison hospital after the Kremlin critic was reported to be “actively dying” inside jail.

Navalny, 44, launched a hunger strike three weeks ago and his private doctors warned over the weekend he could pass away at “any minute”.

The United States threatened Russia with “consequences” if President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent domestic opponent died in jail.

Russia’s prison service, which has barred Navalny’s own medical team from visiting him, said its doctors had decided to move him to a medical facility at another penal colony outside Moscow.

But it insisted the anti-corruption campaigner’s condition was “satisfactory”, and said he was taking vitamin supplements as part of medical treatment.

Navalny’s health has been shaky since he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok last year.

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Fears over Navalny’s fate have further worsened relations between Moscow and the West, already strained over a Russian troop build-up along the border with Ukraine and a diplomatic row with a number of European countries.

As the European Union’s 27 foreign ministers held virtual talks Monday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc held the Russian authorities responsible for Navalny’s health.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas added that the EU would be watching closely to see that Navalny was getting the medical care he needed.

Borrell called Navalny’s condition “very worrisome” and repeated demands that Moscow allows his chosen team of doctors to inspect him.

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis pushed further, saying the bloc should prepare “a humanitarian mission” to fly him out of Russia for treatment.

“If the international community does not respond, the regime’s opposition leader will be sent silently to his death,” Landsbergis said.

And Britain’s foreign minister Dominic Raab tweeted that Russia “must grant him immediate access to independent medical care & release him from his politically motivated imprisonment”.

Despite the pressure from Europe and the US, the Kremlin has dismissed their concerns.

“The health of convicts in the Russia Federation cannot and should not be a topic concerning them,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Navalny was arrested in Russia in January after returning from treatment in Germany for the nerve agent poisoning in August, which he says was carried out by Moscow — an accusation denied by Putin’s administration.

Sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for embezzlement — charges he says are politically motivated — Navalny began a hunger strike on March 31 demanding medical treatment for back pain and numbness to his hands and legs.

Navalny’s supporters have called for major protests across Russia on Wednesday to demand his release, the rallies scheduled just hours after Putin delivers his state-of-the-nation address.

Russian police — who detained thousands during earlier protests over Navalny’s initial jailing — warned people not to demonstrate, saying officers would take “all necessary measures to maintain law and order”.

With Wires


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