Person of the Week: Aleksei Navalny ‘ill-treated and denied adequate medical assistance’ in prison.

Week-ending 9 April 2021

This week Aleksei Navalny was moved to a sick ward in the penal colony where he is imprisoned suffering from symptoms of a respiratory illness (cough and a high temperature). He is also suffering from pain in his back and is losing the feeling in his legs and hands. He continues his hunger strike. Prison officials prevented outside doctors for examining Navalny. Supporters of Navalny, including doctors, who protested outside the prison were arrested. A number of them were jailed for a week. In a statement Amnesty International said Navalny is being ill-treated and denied adequate medical assistance despite serious deterioration of his health, condemned his unlawful and politically motivated detention and called for his immediate release.


Caucasian Knot, 4 April 2021: Oppositionist Alexei Navalny is kept in colony in torturous conditions, Volgograd solo picketers assert. The “Caucasian Knot” has reported that on March 31, activists of the “Strategy-31” campaign, Vladimir Vasilchenko, Vladimir Vasikovsky and Galina Tikhenko held solo pickets in Volgograd, where they called for observing the norms of the Constitution and demanded the release of Alexei Navalny. On April 3, the activists, Tamara Grodnikova, Galina Tikhenko, Elena Sheina and Vladimir Vasikovsky took to solo pickets with posters reading “Freedom and treatment for Navalny!” and “They are killing Navalny – they are killing us! Freedom for Alexei Navalny! Don’t be silent!”

The Guardian, 5 April 2021: Alexei Navalny, the imprisoned Russian opposition leader, has been moved to a sick ward suffering from symptoms of a respiratory illness and has been tested for the coronavirus, the Izvestia newspaper reported on Monday. Navalny, a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, last week declared a hunger strike. He has accused prison staff of denying him proper treatment for acute back and leg pain and earlier on Monday, he alleged there had been a tuberculosis outbreak on his ward. The 44-year-old politician said three people from his ward had been hospitalised with TB and joked darkly that catching the disease might offer him relief from his other ailments.

RFE/RL, 5 April 2021: Jailed Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny has been moved to a sick ward after complaining of a cough and temperature, the Izvestia newspaper has reported. Earlier in the day, Navalny said in an Instagram post that a third prisoner in his quarters had been sent to the hospital with suspected tuberculosis. In the post, Navalny said prison doctors had officially diagnosed him with a “severe cough” and a temperature of 38.1 degrees Celsius, which indicates a slight fever.

The Guardian, 6 April 2021: Alexei Navalny’s lawyer has said confirmed that the opposition leader is “seriously ill” after reports emerged that he had been transferred to a prison sick ward for a respiratory illness and had been tested for coronavirus. The Kremlin critic said in a note published on Monday that he was coughing and had a temperature of 38.1C (100.6F). Several prisoners from his ward had already been treated in hospital for tuberculosis, Navalny wrote. Hours later, the pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia reported he had been moved to a sick ward and tested for coronavirus, among other diseases.

RFE/RL, 6 April 2021: Russian prison officials prevented outside doctors from examining jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny after he was moved to a sick ward with a severe cough and temperature amid mounting concern over his health. Anastasia Vasilyeva, Navalny’s doctor and the head of the Alliance of Doctors trade union, attempted to see Navalny on April 6 but said prison officials refused to meet with her or allow entry into the prison. Police later detained Vasilyeva and at least nine other supporters gathered outside the prison. Among those detained were three journalists, including a CNN correspondent. The journalists and Vasilyeva were later released. The Alliance of Doctors says it will continue to hold protests outside the prison until Navalny can be seen by independent doctors.

The Moscow Times, 6 April 2021: A number of supporters of Alexei Navalny were detained Tuesday outside his penal colony east of Moscow after they were denied access to the jailed Kremlin critic, who is on hunger strike demanding proper medical treatment. Among those detained was Anastasia Vasilyeva, Navalny’s personal doctor and head of the Alliance of Doctors medical trade union which is critical of the government, according to the group and AFP journalists at the scene.

CPJ, 6 April 2021, 7 April 2021: In response to today’s detention of journalists near the penal colony where Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny is being held, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement: “Detaining journalists who try to cover Alexei Navalny’s imprisonment is a blunt effort to censor coverage of Putin’s leading critic,” said CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, Gulnoza Said. “Authorities should stop obstructing journalists and trying to intimidate the press, so the international community can keep track of Navalny’s condition and treatment.” Authorities briefly detained CNN correspondent Mathew Chance as well as Ivan Slobodenyuk, a correspondent for Vot Tak TV, the Russian-language service of the Poland-based broadcaster Belsat TV, and Dmitry Nizovtsev, a correspondent with the YouTube channel of Navalny’s organization “Shtab Navalnogo,” according to media reports and a tweet by Chance. Vot Tak TV editor Mariya Lekukh told CPJ via phone that the journalists were released after four hours and are required to appear before police on April 21. She added that Slobodenyuk possessed a valid press card and journalistic assignment sheet, and was wearing a press vest as required by law at the time of his detention.

The Guardian, 7 April 2021: Alexei Navalny has two herniated discs in his back and is losing feeling in his hands, his lawyers have said, as concerns mount about the opposition leader’s health in a Russian prison. Olga Mikhailova, a lawyer for the Kremlin critic, confirmed that he had been placed in a prison sick ward and had undergone an MRI after complaining of numbness and pain in his legs and back. She said a doctor had told Navalny about the herniated discs, calling them “difficult to treat”. Navalny remained feverish and still had a pronounced cough, she said, though his temperature had gone down from 102F (39C) to 99F. Tests had not yet shown that he had contracted coronavirus or tuberculosis, Mikhailova added.

RFE/RL, 7 April 2021: Jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny is losing about 1 kilogram a day, his lawyer said, as he continues his hunger strike amid growing concerns about his overall health after he reported a severe cough and high temperature. Vadim Kobzev, a member of Navalny’s legal team, said in a post to Twitter on April 7 that his temperature remained elevated but down slightly from the previous day. “Aleksei walks by himself. Feels pain when walking. A very disturbing factor is that the disease is clearly progressing in terms of loss of sensitivity in the legs, palms, and hands,” he wrote in a separate tweet. Earlier, Olga Mikhailova, another member of Navalny’s legal team, said he had had an initial test for exposure to coronavirus and that had come back negative. She said they were waiting results of a second.

RFE/RL, 7 April 2021: The father of Ivan Zhdanov, the director of jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), has been remanded in custody on a charge of abuse of office, which he and his supporters reject. The Rostov regional court on April 7 upheld an earlier decision by a lower court in the city of Rostov-on-Don to keep 66-year-old Yury Zhdanov in pretrial detention at least until May 21. Yury Zhdanov, who took part in the hearing via a video link from the detention center, and his lawyers requested the court transfer him to house arrest due to his age and the danger of getting infected with the coronavirus while in custody.

Amnesty International, 8 April 2021: Prominent Russian opposition figure and anti-corruption campaigner Aleksei Navalny was arbitrarily arrested on 17 January 2021 after recovering from being poisoned. He was subsequently sentenced to two and a half years in prison for “violating the terms of a suspended sentence”. In prison, he is being ill-treated and denied adequate medical assistance despite serious deterioration of his health. In protest, he continues a hunger strike that began on 31 March. Aleksei Navalny’s detention is unlawful and politically motivated. He must be immediately released.

The Moscow Times, 8 April 2021: A Russian court has handed week-long sentences to several supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny after they traveled to his penal colony to demand he receives proper medical treatment. Police on Tuesday detained nine Navalny supporters outside his prison in the town of Pokrov around 100 kilometers east of Moscow for violating public order. The supporters had gathered outside the colony to demand access to Navalny, who is on hunger strike and demanding medical treatment for back pain and numbness in his legs and hands.

RFE/RL, 8 April 2021: The Moscow City Court has remanded Kira Yarmysh, spokeswoman of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, under house arrest. The court also ruled on April 8 to preserve house arrest as the pretrial restriction for a leading member of the Pussy Riot protest group, Maria Alyokhina; a coordinator of Navalny’s team in Moscow, Oleg Stepanov; and municipal lawmaker Dmitry Baranovsky. The four along with six other associates and supporters of Navalny have been charged with publicly urging Moscow residents to violate sanitary and epidemiological safety precautions. The group was detained in late January on the eve of unsanctioned mass rallies against Navalny’s arrest. Most of them were placed under house arrest.RFE/RL: The house arrest of the brother of jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, a close associate, and two Moscow municipal lawmakers who are charged with breaking coronavirus restrictions by publicly calling on Moscow residents to take part in unsanctioned rallies in January, has been cancelled. Vladimir Voronin, the lawyer for Lyubov Sobol, who is a lawyer with Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), said late on April 7 that the Moscow City Court had ruled to replace the house arrest of his client, as well as Navalny’s brother, Oleg Navalny, and Moscow city lawmakers, Lyusya Shtein and Konstantin Yankauskas, with other restrictions. According to the court decision, the new restrictions include being barred from leaving their homes between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., a ban on communicating with other individuals in the case, a ban on the use of all methods of communication to discuss issues related to the case, and a ban on the use of regular mail or telegraphic communication.

RFE/RL, 9 April 2021: A court in Moscow has sentenced a man to 3 1/2 years in prison on a criminal charge of attacking a police officer during January 31 rallies in support of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny. The Meshchansky district court on April 9 found Pavel Grin-Romanov guilty of using pepper spray against a police officer during the dispersal of the demonstrators. Grin-Romanov pleaded “partially guilty” admitting he sprayed the pepper spray in the direction of the riot police but did so to protect his wife who was with him.

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