Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny’s condition has worsened sharply after 2 1/2 weeks of a hunger strike and he may die within days, his supporters said.
“Alexey is dying now. Given his condition, it’s a matter of days,” Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said on Facebook.
Anastasia Vasilieva, who heads the Alliance of Doctors union that is backed by Navalny and who is also his doctor, posted a copy of his blood test results showing what she said were “critical” levels of potassium. “This signifies kidney failure, which can lead at any time to a severe disruption to his heartbeat” including the possibility of heart failure, she said on Twitter. US President Joe Biden was asked about Navalny’s condition. “It’s totally, totally unfair,” Biden told reporters.
Navalny, 44, has been held at the notorious IK-2 prison camp about 100 kilometres from Moscow since March 11. President Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken critic was imprisoned for breaking parole rules while he was recovering in Germany from a near-fatal chemical poisoning in Siberia that he and Western governments blamed on the Kremlin.
Russian authorities deny involvement.
After complaining of acute back and leg pain, Navalny began a hunger strike on March 31 to demand specialist care from doctors outside the prison system. In a post on his Instagram account Friday, Navalny’s allies reported that a prison official had warned him that a blood test indicated a “serious deterioration” in his health and that he would be force fed if he didn’t end the protest.
The Federal Penitentiary Service didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Officials have said previously that Navalny has received all necessary medical attention.
Biden pressed Putin in a phone call on Tuesday about the poisoning of the opposition leader, which U.S. intelligence has publicly blamed on Russia’s Federal Security Service. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron also quizzed Putin about Navalny in a March 30 phone call.
Dozens of public figures including five Nobel Literature Prize winners urged Putin in an open to ensure Navalny “immediately” receives medical treatment. So far, Russia has brushed aside all Western criticism of the case and Kremlin officials refuse even to mention Navalny by name.
Even as his condition deteriorates, Russian prosecutors stepped up a crackdown Friday by asking a Moscow court to declare Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation and his Moscow campaign headquarters as extremist organizations. The opposition group warned that the designation could subject all of its staff and volunteers to criminal prosecution and imprisonment.
Navalny’s allies say more than 455,000 people have pledged anonymously to take part in new demonstrations calling for his release. The demonstrations would likely be held in the coming months once the target of 500,000 is reached.