MOSCOW – Russian authorities on Monday transferred jailed opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny to a hospital for what has been described as vitamin therapy.
The Russian prison system issued a statement saying a government commission of doctors had decided to move for Mr Navalny, who is now nearly three weeks on a hunger strike. Mr Navalny’s personal doctors have reported that he is suffering from a range of serious symptoms which they characterize as fatal.
There was no immediate response from political allies or Mr. Navalny’s personal doctors about the recommendation for vitamin therapy. Over the weekend, they said Mr Navalny’s blood tests revealed a risk of impending heart or kidney failure.
Her potassium levels were high and tests showed other signs of possible kidney disease, her doctors said. But starvation is only a problem in his declining health. Lawyers for Mr Navalny say he could also suffer from the lingering effects of near-fatal poisoning with a military nerve agent last summer.
Mr Navalny was treated in Germany after the apparent intoxication, but upon his return to Russia he was arrested on parole violation for a conviction he and his allies rejected on political grounds. He is currently serving a two and a half year sentence.
The US and European governments have issued statements demanding adequate treatment for Mr. Navalny, and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the Russian government would face “consequences if Mr. Navalny dies.”
The transfer to a hospital from a high-security prison east of Moscow could indicate a worsening of Mr Navalny’s state of health. But the statement from the prison authorities suggested the goal was closer medical observation. “Currently, the state of health of A. Navalny is deemed satisfactory, ”the press release noted. He added that he was observed daily by a doctor and that he had agreed to start a course in “vitamin therapy”.
Mr Navalny, 44, who was President Vladimir V. Putin’s main political opponent for more than a decade, was in good health before the chemical weapons poisoning last summer. The nerve toxin and the treatment left him in a coma for weeks.
While in prison, he reported a series of symptoms, including back pain and loss of sensation in his legs and arms. Prison doctors said medical imaging found discs slipped into his back. He also had a high temperature and was coughing, although authorities said tests for Covid-19 and tuberculosis, a disease common in Russian prisons, had been negative.
Blood tests, however, have shown signs of possible kidney failure that could lead to a fatal irregularity in Mr Navalny’s heartbeat, his personal physician, Dr Anastasia Vasilyeva, said over the weekend in a joint statement with specialist physicians.
The transfer to a prison hospital will not help Mr Navalny, Ms Vasilyeva said on Monday. The site specializes in treating prisoners with tuberculosis, she noted. “This is absolutely not a hospital where they can diagnose and treat her problems,” she wrote in declaration published on social networks.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry S. Peskov said on Monday that Mr Putin was not monitoring Mr Navalny’s health. Decisions about his care were left to the prison service, he said on a conference call with reporters.
“I also have no information on the health of this prisoner you are talking about,” he said.