Tags: Russia | russia | navalny | hospital

Jailed Kremlin Critic Navalny to Be Moved to Hospital

alexei navalny stands in court room
In this Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021 file photo, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny stands in a cage in the Babuskinsky District Court in Moscow, Russia. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

Monday, 19 April 2021 06:59 AM

Russian authorities decided to move opposition leader Alexey Navalny to a prison hospital after allies warned his health was failing amid a hunger strike and the U.S. threatened the Kremlin with unspecified “consequences” if he dies.

Navalny is in “satisfactory condition,” the local branch of the Federal Penitentiary Service said in a website statement Monday. He agreed to “vitamin therapy” and is getting daily examinations from a doctor, it said.

The transfer means Navalny’s condition has “worsened so much that the even the torture chamber admits it,” Ivan Zhdanov, head of the activist’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, wrote in Twitter.

The 44-year-old’s condition has become the latest flashpoint in the growing tensions between Russia and the West. The U.S. and Europe are pressing President Vladimir Putin to ensure proper medical care for Navalny, who began a hunger strike in prison March 31 to demand access to his personal doctors for acute back and leg pains. The opposition leader’s supporters on Sunday called for protests across Russia on April 21, the day Putin is due to give his annual state-of-the-nation address, after warning that the Kremlin’s most outspoken critic may be only days from death.

Amid fears of more potential sanctions, the ruble traded 0.4% weaker against the dollar as of 12:13pm in Moscow, the worst performer in emerging markets after the Indian rupee.

“We are looking at a variety of different costs that we would impose, and I’m not going to telegraph that publicly at this point,” U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “But we have communicated that there will be consequences if Mr. Navalny dies.”

Russia hit back defiantly after the comments.

“It’s obvious that Russia’s development as a strong, sovereign state is of no interest” to the West, Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the lower house of parliament and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, said on Telegram Monday. Russia should brace for measures aimed at its vital energy sector and industry, he said.

The Penitentiary Service said a commission of doctors had made the decision to transfer Navalny to the hospital at the high-security IK-3 prison in the city of Vladimir, about 190 kilometers (118 miles) from Moscow, “which specializes in dynamic observation of such patients.” It didn’t specify whether the move had already taken place.

Navalny has been imprisoned since March 11 at another camp in the area for breaking parole rules while recuperating in Germany from a near-fatal poisoning in Siberia that he and Western governments blame on the Kremlin. Russian authorities deny any involvement.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called for the prisoner’s “immediate and unconditional release.” Navalny’s fate is in Putin’s hands, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Sunday, while German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told the daily Bild that Berlin “urgently” demands he receive adequate medical care.

Anastasia Vasilieva, who heads the Alliance of Doctors union that is backed by Navalny, 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. She wrote Monday that the IK-3 prison hospital to which he’s being moved isn’t qualified to treat him.

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.

U.S. Sanctions

President Joe Biden on Thursday ordered a raft of new sanctions against Russia, including restrictions on buying new sovereign debt, in response to allegations that Moscow was behind a hack on SolarWinds Corp. and interfered with last year’s U.S. election.

Yet the moves were calibrated to punish the Kremlin for past behavior while keeping relations from deteriorating further, especially as tensions grow over a Russian military build-up near Ukraine. Biden has offered to meet Putin later this year, an invitation Russia said it responded to “positively.”

Asked about Navalny’s condition on Saturday, Biden told reporters “It’s totally, totally unfair.”

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.

Macron called for “clear red lines” in dealing with Russia in an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation broadcast on Sunday. “It’s a failure of our collective credibility vis-à-vis Russia,” he said.

© Copyright 2021 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.


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Russian authorities decided to move opposition leader Alexey Navalny to a prison hospital after allies warned his health was failing amid a hunger strike and the U.S. threatened the Kremlin with unspecified "consequences" if he dies...
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2021-59-19
Monday, 19 April 2021 06:59 AM
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