Putin’s critic Alexey Navalny’s lawyers are concerned about his health in prison

The lawyers accused the prison authorities of blocking access to the opposition leader.

Navalny, known as the fiercest critic of President Vladimir Putin, arrived in a penal colony about 60 miles east of Moscow earlier this month, where he was sent to serve a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence that he received in a widely criticized judgment. as politics.

Navalny’s lawyers said Wednesday they had tried to pay him a scheduled visit at the prison, Correctional Colony No. 2, but were prevented by prison authorities from seeing him, whom they accused of hiding Navalny. The lawyers, Olga Mikhailova and Vadim Kobzev, said they were concerned that Navalny’s health was deteriorating in prison.

They said Navalny had been suffering from back pain for several days and that one leg had become numb and he was unable to stand on it. He had been seen by a doctor last Friday, but has since been denied any treatment other than receiving two ibuprofen tablets, lawyers said.

Navalny decided to return to Russia after narrowly surviving a nerve agent poisoning last summer that has been linked to Russian security services. His supporters fear that he may still face further attempts on his life in prison.

“In the circumstances known to all, the sharp decline in his well-being cannot but cause great concern,” the two lawyers wrote in a statement.

Following the reports, Russia’s Federal Prison Service announced on Thursday that it had conducted a medical examination on Navalny in prison and that his health “was considered stable, satisfactory.”

The prison where Navalny is being held in the Vladimirskaya region is known among Russian prisoners for its rigor and for frequently blocking access to lawyers and relatives of prisoners. Inmates spend much of the day on their feet and have virtually no free time, former inmates told ABC News and other outlets.

Denying inmates adequate medical care is also routine in Russian prisons, according to human rights observers. Inmates can spend weeks requesting medical tests before seeing a doctor, and treatment is often limited to ibuprofen tablets.

Navalny spent months recovering in Germany after his near-fatal nerve agent poisoning last August that left him in a coma. Navalny, 41, had to relearn how to move and underwent physical therapy in Germany, but appears to have made a good recovery. However, his doctors said the nerve agent Novichok could leave persistent nerve damage and other health problems.

In recent weeks, Navalny himself has posted upbeat messages from prison through his lawyers. In messages from the penal colony this week, he compared inmates forced to queue each morning to Stormtroopers in “Star Wars” movies.

Navalny’s team recently announced plans for a new street protest later this spring. Tens of thousands of people joined the protests in Russia in late January after Navalny was arrested upon his return to Moscow. But after two weeks of intense repression that saw thousands arrested, Navalny organizers called off any other street demonstrations, saying the movement needed to retain its strength and that it would be irresponsible to continue when it was clear that short-term demonstrations would not force to the Kremlin to free Navalny.

Although the protests were unusually large for Russia, authorities with riot police dispersed them easily. On the day of Navalny’s incarceration, only a couple of thousand people demonstrated in Moscow.

Navalny’s team said they were taking a different approach and would not name a date for the new protest until around 500,000 people had said they would attend by registering on a website created by Navalny’s group. After more than two days, the website shows that almost 247,000 people have registered to participate in the protest.

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