Detained Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny says he is going on a hunger strike until he receives appropriate medical care for back pain and leg swelling.
“I declare a hunger strike and demand that the law be enforced and that a doctor of my choice be allowed to visit me,” Navalny said, according to his lawyers.
The 44-year-old Russian opposition leader is serving his sentence in a second correctional colony, 100 kilometers from Moscow. The castle is known in Russia as one of the strictest penitentiary institutions.
Navalny was detained on his way back to Russia at Moscow airport in January. He was returning to the country from Berlin after a six-month course of treatment following his poisoning and coma. Navalny was poisoned with the Soviet nerve agent “Novichok” in August last year. He became ill while flying in Siberia and lost consciousness.
Navalny says it was an assassination attempt on Vladimir Putin at his behest. The Kremlin denies this.
In February, a Moscow court ruled that Navalny had violated the terms of his probation during treatment in Germany, did not appear in a penitentiary and commuted his sentence to imprisonment. He was sentenced to 3.5 years probation, part of the sentence due to serving the sentence, he should remain in prison for 2.5 years according to the court decision.
Navalny’s Instagram post states that he has severe back pain and loss of sensation in the lower extremities. Navalny says he is only given a painkiller and no further assistance is provided. “I am not allowed to do anything,” he said.
Navalny also accused the prison guards of torturing him with sleep deprivation and said they would wake him up eight times a night.
Hundreds of Russian doctors have called on the authorities to allow Navalny to seek medical help amid growing concerns about his health.
Navalny’s arrest was followed by protests in Russia. Thousands of protesters were detained. The European Union, the United States and Canada have imposed sanctions on Russia over Navalny’s case.