Alexei Navalny Goes On Hunger Strike, Russian Prison Service Responds
BERLIN, GERMANY - JANUARY 23: Some 2500 supporters of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny marched in protest demand for his release from prison in Moscow on January 23, 2021 in Berlin, Germany. The protesters marched from the federal chancellery through the Russian embassy to Brandenburg Gate in part also heeding a call by Navalny to protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin. Navalny, who was arrested earlier this week upon his return to Moscow from Germany, has called for protests against Putin across Russia, though Russian authorities have refused to allow them and deemed the protests illegal. Berlin is home to a large expatriate Russian community. (Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images)
Omer Messinger/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny announced on Wednesday that he has begun a hunger strike in prison in order to protest against the officials’ lack of care for his current ailments.

Navalny was arrested after returning to Russia from Germany where he had been seeking medical care after he was poisoned. He holds the Kremlin responsible for his poisoning although they have denied any involvement. United States intelligence officials have “concluded with high confidence that Navalny was poisoned last year with a banned nerve agent called Novichok by the Russian security services,” according to Politico.

Last week, Navalny released letters saying that his physical condition has worsened while he has been in prison and that he is experiencing sleep deprivation.

The Daily Wire reported:

The letters were reportedly sent to officials in the prison system and a prosecutor in Russia. Copies of the writings were posted to Navalny’s website.

AP reports, “Navalny blamed his health problems on prison officials failing to provide the right medicines and refusing to allow his doctor to visit him behind bars. He also complained in a second letter that the hourly checks a guard makes on him at night amounted to sleep deprivation torture.”

“My condition has worsened. I feel acute pain in my right leg, and I feel numbness in its lower part,” Navalny said in the letter. “I have trouble walking.”

He also said that officials have given him pills and topical treatment for his pain, but will not accept medication that was prescribed by his doctor beforehand. 

After his lawyer, Olga Mikhailova, visited him, she confirmed that “his right leg is in terrible shape.” His lawyers publicly released two official complaints that Navalny had filed in Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service, The Daily Wire reported.

On Wednesday, CNN reported that Navalny’s team had posted an image on Instagram of a handwritten letter penned by Navalny, telling the leader of the penal colony of his decision to start a hunger strike.

“I have the right to call a doctor and get medications. They give me neither one nor the other. The back pain has moved to the leg. Parts of my right leg and now of my left leg have lost sensitivity. Jokes aside, but this is already annoying,” Navalny said, according to CNN reporting.

“I announce a hunger strike with a demand for the law to be obeyed and that I’m seen by a doctor from outside. So I’m hungry, but so far I still have two legs,” Navalny wrote in the Instagram post.

According to Reuters, allies of Navalny said that he had lost weight in prison even before starting a hunger strike. They said that his weight dropped to 85kg (187 lbs) from the 93kg (205 lbs) that he weighed when he entered prison last month.

“He himself links this weight loss primarily to the fact that he is not allowed to sleep and is woken up eight times a night,” his allies posted on his Twitter account, per the outlet.

Navalny reiterated accounts of this treatment on Wednesday, saying, “Instead of medical assistance, I am tortured with sleep deprivation (they wake me up 8 times a night), and the administration persuading the activist convicts (aka “goats”) to intimidate ordinary convicts so that they do not clean around my bed,” CNN reported.

Navalny is being held at the IK-2 prison facility, which is located in the Vladimir region. The prison service in the area has reportedly denied Navalny’s accusations of sleep deprivation and, according to Reuters, “said in a statement late on Wednesday that conditions for him at the prison were entirely legal and the same as for other inmates.”

The statement said that Navalny is being given all of the medical attention that is necessary and that “Correction facility officers strictly respect the right of all inmates to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.” It also added that the prison guards check on prisoners during the night, which it said does not prevent them from resting.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Alexei Navalny Goes On Hunger Strike, Russian Prison Service Responds