News of the Day: 18 April 2021

The Guardian: Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny risks cardiac arrest at “any minute” as his health has rapidly deteriorated, doctors warned Saturday, urging immediate access to Russia’s most famous prisoner. On 31 March, Vladimir Putin’s most prominent opponent went on hunger strike to demand proper medical treatment for back pain and numbness in his legs and hands. On Saturday, Joe Biden added his voice to a growing international chorus of protest at the treatment of the activist, describing his situation as “totally unfair”. Navalny, 44, was imprisoned in February and is serving two-and-a-half years on old embezzlement charges in a penal colony in the town of Pokrov about 100km (60 miles) east of Moscow. Navalny’s personal doctor Anastasia Vasilyeva and three more doctors, including cardiologist Yaroslav Ashikhmin, have asked prison officials to grant them immediate access.

RFE/RL: Washington has threatened “consequences” if hunger-striking jailed opposition leader Aleksei Navalny dies behind prison bars as his allies called for massive protests to pressure Russian officials to relent and allow the Kremlin critic to see an independent doctor after a group of physicians warned over his deteriorating health. Navalny, 44, went on a hunger strike at the end of last month in protest of what he said was the refusal of prison authorities to allow him to receive proper medical care for acute back and leg pain, just months after he recovered from a poison attack that nearly took his life. The health of President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critic has rapidly deteriorated in recent days and he could suffer cardiac arrest at “any minute,” according to his personal doctor and three other physicians, including a cardiologist, who pleaded for access to Navalny in a letter to Russia’s Federal Prison Service.

The Guardian: Allies of Alexei Navalny have called on his supporters to stage mass protests on Wednesday in towns and cities all across Russia, amid a dire warning that the jailed Kremlin critic and opposition leader is now dangerously ill and could die “at any minute”. Navalny’s team said the situation had got so desperate that there was no time to delay. They had previously said street protests would resume once they reached 500,000 signatures in support – with the current tally about 50,000 short. In a video posted on Navalny’s YouTube channel his deputies Leonid Volkov and Ivan Zhdanov said Navalny’s health had deteriorated so dramatically that a mass public display was the only way to save him. Volkov urged citizens to gather at 7pm on Wednesday in squares across the country.

The Moscow Times: U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned Sunday that Russia will face “consequences” if hunger-striking Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny dies. Jailed opposition leader Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent opponent, was arrested in January upon returning to Russia after recovering from a near-fatal poisoning attack he says was orchestrated by Moscow.

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