Navalny ‘losing sensation in legs and hands’

Written By: BBC

Navalny, seen here in February, started a hunger strike to demand proper medical treatment. Reuters

The health of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny is deteriorating and he is beginning to lose sensation in his legs and hands, his lawyer says.

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Vadim Kobzev said Navalny, who is in a penal colony serving a sentence for embezzlement, had been diagnosed with two spinal hernias.

Last week, Navalny started a hunger strike to demand proper treatment for acute back and leg pain.

The White House said reports that his health was worsening were disturbing.

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Mr Kobzev, who visited Navalny on Wednesday, said on Twitter (in Russian): “Alexei is walking himself. He feels pain while walking. It is very concerning that the illness is clearly progressing in terms of losing sensation in his legs, palms and wrists.”

His temperature was oscillating and had fallen to 37C (98.6F) on Wednesday after reaching 39C (102F) on Monday, according to the lawyer, who said Navalny was losing 1kg (2lbs) a day due to a hunger strike.

Also on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration considered Navalny’s imprisonment “politically motivated and a gross injustice” and called for his immediate release.

Earlier, human rights group Amnesty International said Navalny had been incarcerated in conditions that amount to torture and may slowly be killing him. Campaigners say the prison is known for its especially harsh conditions.

Last week, Russia’s prison service denied Navalny’s allegations that he was not receiving proper treatment, saying he had been given “all the necessary medical assistance in accordance with his medical indications”.

On Monday, he said as many as three people from his unit had been taken to hospital with tuberculosis recently, a claim the Russian prison service denied.

Navalny was given a suspended sentence for embezzlement in 2014, a conviction widely seen as politically motivated.

The suspended sentence became an actual prison term in February, following his return from Germany, where he had been receiving treatment for poisoning with the nerve agent Novichok.

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