Concerns for the safety of Vladimir Putin’s main political opponent have spiked after his aides shared he has suffered “a serious health-related incident”.
Alexei Navalny is serving a sentence of more than 30 years in a penal colony east of Moscow on what the Russian lawyer and anti-corruption activist calls a series of trumped-up charges.
On Friday, his lawyers announced to have learned Mr Navalny had suffered an incident – but they have been barred from seeing him.
Maria Pevchikh, chair of Mr Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, wrote on the social media platform X: “We have learned that last week he had a serious health-related incident. Navalny’s life is at great risk. He is in complete isolation right now.”
The spokesperson of Putin’s political opponent, Kira Yarmysh, also claimed staff at the penal colony put Mr Navalny on a drip last week after he felt dizzy and laid down on the floor of his cell.
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The spokesperson said Mr Navalny’s dizziness looked like “hunger faint”. Despite being seriously worried about his health, Mr Navalny’s staff hasn’t been able to contact him for three days.
Further stoking concerns his life may be under threat, Mr Navalny didn’t appear at the scheduled judicial hearings about his case, his aides noted.
Ms Yarmysh added: “Now it’s the third day that we don’t know where he is. Before that, there were at least occasional letters from him, albeit censored ones, but there have been no letters all week.”
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Poisoned in 2020 with a nerve agent, Mr Navalny is affected by long-term health issues feared to be deteriorating while he is in prison.
UN torture expert Alice Edwards said in May she was “distressed” by his deteriorating health state, adding he is “reportedly suffering from serious ill-health, including chronic spinal disease and problems related to neurological damage”.
Mr Navalny has been behind bars since 2020 and was arrested upon his return to Russia from Berlin, where he was treated after the poisoning.
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The Kremlin denied trying to kill Mr Navalny and says he is being treated like any other prisoner.
Concerns for Mr Navalny’s well-being came as Putin announced on Friday he will run for re-election in March 2024.
One day prior, Mr Navalny’s team launched the lawyer’s electoral campaign, in which they urged people to “come to the polls and vote against Vladimir Putin”.
While the team expected the elections to be “rigged”, they said everyone must understand that “Russia doesn’t need Putin anymore”.
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