Russian opposition leader Navalny’s health worsens in prison


MOSCOW (AP) – Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has suffered back pain and leg problems in prison, his lawyer said Thursday.

The lawyer, Olga Volkova, said Navalny’s condition has deteriorated markedly in recent days.

“He suffers severe pain in his back and in his right leg. He feels numbness in his lower right leg, ”Volkova said outside the prison in remarks broadcast on independent Dozhd television. “His right leg is in very bad shape.”

Navalny, 44, who is President Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken opponent, was arrested on January 17 upon his return from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from nerve agent poisoning that he blames the Kremlin. The Russian authorities have rejected the accusation.

Volkova said Navalny was taken to a hospital outside the prison on Wednesday for an MRI scan, but was not given the results. She said Navalny had received pills and ointments for her pain, but the prison authorities refused to accept the medicines that the lawyers brought her.

Volkova said Navalny had been experiencing back pain for four weeks, but prison officials also did not allow her doctor to visit. The lawyer argued that the authorities should transfer Navalny to Moscow so that he could receive better treatment.

Earlier this month, Navalny was transferred to a penal colony in Pokrov, in the Vladimir region, 85 kilometers (53 miles) east of Moscow. The facility stands out among Russian prisons for its particularly strict regime that includes routines such as standing at attention for hours.

Russia’s Federal Prison Service said early Thursday that Navalny had undergone medical checks the day before, describing his condition as “stable and satisfactory.”

Last month, Navalny was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for violating the terms of his probation while convalescing in Germany. The ruling stems from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that Navalny has rejected as fabricated and that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled illegal.

Russian officials have rejected demands by the United States and the European Union to release Navalny and stop the crackdown on his supporters.

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