MOSCOW (Reuters) – Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said on Monday he had a high fever and severe cough, and that three of the 15 inmates in his Russian prison ward were being treated in hospital for tuberculosis.
Navalny, 44, a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, declared a hunger strike last week to protest what he said was the prison authorities’ refusal to provide him with adequate medical care for acute back and leg pain.
His allies said they would stage an ongoing protest outside his prison starting Tuesday unless he was examined by a doctor of their choice and given what they consider the proper medicine.
State media and some members of a prison watchdog group have accused him of faking his medical problems to keep himself in the public eye, something Navalny and his allies deny.
On Monday, Navalny said a third person in his ward had been rushed to the hospital with tuberculosis, had a high fever and a cough, and joked darkly that contracting the disease could alleviate his other ailments.
“If I have tuberculosis, it may help me get rid of back pain and numbness in my legs. That would be nice, “he wrote on Instagram.
“I quote the official statistics from today’s temperature measurement:” Navalny AA, strong cough, temperature 38.1, “he wrote in an Instagram post, adding that he planned to continue his hunger strike.
A temperature above 38 degrees Celsius (100.58 degrees Fahrenheit) usually indicates a fever caused by an infection or illness.
Navalny’s lawyers have regularly visited him in custody and helped him continue to post messages on social media.
Authorities at the IK-2 corrective penal colony 100 km (60 miles) east of Moscow, where the opposition politician is being held, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on an outbreak of tuberculosis or the temperature and Navalny’s cough.
They have previously said that his condition was satisfactory and that all necessary medical attention has been provided.
Anastasiya Vasilyeva, a doctor and Navalny ally, confirmed that plans for a protest would take place on Tuesday.
Additional reporting by Vladmir Soldatkin and Polina Nikolskaya; Edited by Timothy Heritage