News of the Day: 19 April 2021

Amnesty International: Responding to reports that Aleksei Navalny has been transferred from the penal colony where he is unlawfully imprisoned to a medical ward at another prison, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said: “Aleksei Navalny’s health has deteriorated rapidly during his time in detention. He is now on hunger strike as the Russian authorities have been denying him an examination by independent doctors of his choice. The transfer of Navalny to another penal colony and the latest official statements appear to suggest that the authorities intend to start force-feeding him as a way to break his hunger strike and further punish him.”

The Guardian: Alexei Navalny has been transferred to a prison hospital as concerns have grown among supporters that the Russian opposition leader is dangerously ill and could die “at any minute”. Navalny’s transfer came after his doctors warned at the weekend that the Kremlin critic, who has been on hunger strike for nearly three weeks, was in danger of a heart attack or kidney failure. In a statement on Monday, Russia’s prisons service said a doctors’ committee had decided to transfer Navalny to an infirmary in another prison in the Vladimir region that “specialises in dynamic monitoring of similar patients”. “Currently Navalny’s health is evaluated as satisfactory, he is being examined daily by a doctor. With his agreement he has been prescribed vitamin therapy,” it said. His doctors and other representatives do not know what regime has been prescribed and whether he freely consented to it.

RFE/RL: A lawyer for jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, who is in the third week of a hunger strike, says his client looks “bad,” raising further concerns over the Kremlin critic’s health after he was transferred to a correctional facility hospital amid intensifying pressure from the West. Lawyer Aleksei Liptser met briefly with Navalny on April 19 and said that even though the situation was “only getting worse,” the 44-year-old anti-corruption campaigner said he was determined to continue his hunger strike even though his health was failing. “The lawyer got to see Navalny for just a few minutes, then he was kicked out with officials citing the end of the working day…. Civilian doctors are still not allowed to see him, and he is not stopping his hunger strike,” the coordinator of the network of Navalny’s teams across Russia, Leonid Volkov, wrote on Twitter. Reuters quoted Lipster as saying that Navalny had again been denied a doctor of his choice.

Human Rights Watch: The Moscow prosecutor’s office is seeking a court ruling to declare several organizations affiliated with the jailed opposition figure and vocal Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny “extremist,” Human Rights Watch said today. If the designation is imposed, these organizations’ activities would be banned, and their staff members and supporters could face criminal prosecution and possible prison time. The prosecutor’s office should immediately withdraw its request and end this latest attempt to silence and oppress any opposition and dissent in the country. “Pursuing an extremist label against these organizations takes the Kremlin’s persecution of vocal critics to a new low,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “It is ill-founded, scandalous, and another sign of the Kremlin’s rejection of fundamental democratic rights and determination to hold onto power at all costs.”

The Moscow Times: Parents of victims of the deadly Beslan school siege have started a hunger strike in solidarity with jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny amid increasing concern among supporters that his life is in danger, the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper reported Monday.  Ella Kesaeyva, who co-chairs Russia’s Voice of Beslan grassroots organization, likened Navalny’s plight to the September 2004 hostage-taking that ended with more than 330 killed adults and children. Navalny’s doctors warned that he could die at “any minute” nearly three weeks into his hunger strike to demand outside medical treatment.

RFE/RL: The former coordinator of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny’s team in Russia’s second-largest city, St. Petersburg, has been detained two days before announced rallies to demand the Kremlin critic’s release from prison amid reports his health is rapidly deteriorating. Denis Mikhailov wrote on Telegram that he was detained early on April 19 for taking part in an unsanctioned demonstration on January 31 protesting Navalny’s arrest. If found guilty, Mikhailov could face up to 15 days in jail. The current leader of Navalny’s team in the city, Irina Fatyanova, was sentenced to 10 days in jail on the same charge last week.

RFE/RL: An outspoken environmental activist who has been looking into illegal gold mining in Russia’s Bashkortostan region says he was viciously beaten by unknown attackers in the town of Baimak. Ildar Yumagulov was hospitalized with two broken legs after three men attacked him 200 meters away from a police station on April 18. He told RFE/RL that two masked men in black clothing beat him with baseball bats and that when he managed to escape the attack, a third masked man appeared and knocked him down to allow the attack to continue.

The Moscow Times: Russia has launched a probe against YouTube for “abusing” its dominant position in the market by making “biased” decisions about comment moderation, a government regulator said on Monday. The move comes as Russia ramps up pressure on foreign tech platforms, with Moscow stepping up its efforts to control the Russian segment of the internet.  The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service said that YouTube’s rules relating to the suspension or deletion of accounts are “opaque, biased and unpredictable.”  “This leads to sudden blocking and deletion of user accounts without warning and justification,” the anti-monopoly regulator said in a statement.

Human Rights Watch: [Kenneth Roth] Last summer, Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny narrowly survived an assassination attempt, widely believed to have been organized by Russia’s security services, through a Novichok nerve-agent poisoning. Now, without concerted action, he may die from medical neglect in a Russian penal colony where the authorities locked him up following a mockery of a trial. The botched nerve-agent attack, since exposed, was supposed to have been accomplished with deniability. If Navlany now dies in prison, the blame will lie unequivocally with the Kremlin.

Human Rights Watch: [Tanya Lokshina] Twenty-nine-year-old Ilya Bronsky tested positive for HIV in 2019 and wanted other HIV-positive Russians to understand that the diagnosis is not the end of the world. His tweets about living with HIV in Russia, a country with over a million HIV-positive residents, reached thousands. In March, he gave an interview to TJournal, a popular online media outlet, emphasizing that with his medication and the support from his partner and friends, his HIV status has not really changed his life. Bronsky believed that speaking openly would help dispel bias about HIV. “Owing to those who speak up about the disease, the myths will be dead and buried, and more and more people will have reliable information,” he said

Leave a Reply