Lawyers for jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny sounded the alarm Wednesday over the politician’s deteriorating health in prison and demanded immediate access, saying he complained of back pain and leg numbness.
Last August President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic survived a near-fatal poisoning with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent, and was flown to Germany for treatment.
The 44-year-old was arrested upon his return to Russia in January and was sentenced to two-and-a-half-years in jail the following month. He is serving his sentence outside Moscow, in a penal colony notorious for harsh discipline.
Navalny’s lawyer Olga Mikhailova said on Wednesday he had recently been complaining of strong back pain, adding that his leg went numb this week.
The opposition politician had seen a neurologist but the doctor had not said what was wrong with him, Mikhailova said, adding that Navalny had simply been given ibuprofen.
“That’s all his treatment,” she told AFP, implying that the painkiller did not help, while his leg went numb on Tuesday.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with him. He should be seen by a proper doctor,” she said.
Mikhailova said she was not allowed to see Navalny on Wednesday.
Navalny’s team expressed strong concern.
The opposition politician’s right-hand man Leonid Volkov suggested the prison administration might be covering up the fact that he had been transferred to a prison infirmary.
“We don’t know where Alexei Navalny is and why they are hiding him from his lawyers,” Volkov said on Facebook.
Maria Pevchikh, head of investigations at Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation said: “The rapid deterioration of his health condition raises our extreme concerns.”
“We believe that Navalny’s life is in danger and demand immediate access to him for his lawyers,” she tweeted.
Last month Navalny was sentenced to two and a half years in a penal colony for breaching parole terms while in Germany recovering from the poisoning attack.