But opposition leader’s doctor Dr Yaroslav Ashikhmin said on Saturday that test results provided by the family show Navalny has very high potassium levels, which can lead to cardiac arrest, and blood levels. elevated creatinine which indicates kidney failure.
“Our patient could die at any time,” he said in a Facebook post.
Reports of Navalny’s rapidly declining health sparked international outrage and calls for Russian authorities to provide the politician with adequate medical aid. The European Union’s foreign ministers on Monday assessed the bloc’s strategy towards Russia in the wake of the news about its health.
Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest opponent, was arrested in January on his return from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from nerve poisoning he attributes to the Kremlin – accusations rejected by Russian officials. Navalny’s arrest sparked a massive wave of protests across Russia, the biggest display of defiance in years. Shortly thereafter, a court ordered him to serve 2.5 years in prison on a 2014 embezzlement conviction that the European Court of Human Rights found “arbitrary and patently unreasonable”.
Navalny went on a hunger strike in prison to protest against refusing to let his doctors visit when he began to experience severe back pain and loss of sensation in his legs. The Russian state prison service said Navalny was receiving all the medical help he needed.
Responding to alarming news about Navalny’s health over the weekend, his team called for a nationwide rally on Wednesday, the very day Putin is due to deliver his annual State of the Nation address. According to a website dedicated to the demonstrations, as of Monday afternoon, demonstrations were planned in 77 Russian cities.
The Home Office on Monday issued a statement urging Russians not to participate in unauthorized gatherings, citing risks of coronavirus and alleging that some “destructive-minded” participants could cause unrest. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said police would treat any unauthorized demonstration as illegal. In the past, security forces have violently dispersed protests.
Russian authorities have already taken their crackdown on Navalny allies and supporters to a new level, with the Moscow prosecutor’s office last week asking a court to label the Navalny Foundation for the Fight against Corruption as extremist groups and its network of regional offices.
According to human rights activists, if this happens, the foundation and regional offices would be banned, crippling their operations, and those working for either could face prosecution. Giving money to either of the two – something thousands of Russians have done regularly in recent years – would also become a criminal offense punishable by jail time.
For now, several of Navalny’s allies have dismissed the decision to take him to the prison hospital as insufficient. Navalny’s main strategist Leonid Volkov said no one should assume this is happening until lawyers for the opposition leader confirm it. “Until lawyers locate him, we won’t know where he is and what’s going on with him,” Volkov wrote in a Facebook post.
One of the lawyers arrived at the prison where Navalny was due to be taken on Monday afternoon, but has yet to see the politician, Volkov said.
Ivan Zhdanov, the head of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, tweeted on Monday that the transfer would simply lead the politician to another “tormented settlement, just with a large hospital facility, where seriously ill people are being transferred.”
Dr Anastasia Vasilyeva, leader of the Navalny-backed Alliance of Doctors and also the politician’s personal physician, noted that it was “not a hospital where a diagnosis can be determined and treatment (can be) prescribed for its ailments.” , but rather “A prison where tuberculosis is treated.”
She called the prison again for her and other doctors to see him.
Since last month, the politician has been serving his sentence in a penal colony known for its difficult conditions.
Navalny complained of being deprived of sleep because guards check him every hour at night and said he developed severe back pain and numbness in his legs a few weeks after being transferred to the colony. His requests to see an independent “civilian” doctor were rejected by prison officials and he went on a hunger strike on March 31.
In a message from the prison on Friday, Navalny said prison officials threatened to force-feed him “imminently”, using “a strait-jacket and other pleasures”.
Over the weekend, French newspaper Le Monde published a letter to Putin signed by dozens of leading cultural figures – including writers Salman Rushdie and Mario Vargas Llosa, singer Patti Smith and actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Kristin Scott Thomas – calling to give Navalny access to proper medical care.
On Monday, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović reiterated her calls for Navalny’s release and “to give him full access to medical care given his serious deterioration in his health” .