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Yekaterinburg is jailing an epileptic woman who protested against pension reform, even after she was rushed to a hospital

Meduza
Irina Norman / Facebook

Irina Norman, an activist who suffers from epilepsy, was arrested on September 9 at a protest in Yekaterinburg against the government’s plans to raise the country’s retirement age. Three days later, a judge later sentenced her to 15 days in jail for repeatedly attending “unpermitted” public assemblies, but on September 14 she was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.

Norman received treatment from a general practitioner at the city’s Number 24 Hospital (where there was no attending neurologist), before police whisked her back to jail, according to fellow activist Polina Greisman.

Alexey Navalny’s local office later published an audio recording of a telephone call between Norman’s lawyer, Yulia Fedotova, and an official at Norman’s special detention center, where the latter explains that a doctor “looked at her, looked her over, and that was it — she had no questions for her and she said she could go back to lockup.” When Fedotova points out that Norman had been “calling and crying into the phone,” the jail official dismissively says she was “just all wound up.”

“She’s nervous, that’s all. She’s very eager to get to the hospital, but the doctor who examined her said that everything was fine. They put it all in the paperwork. [...] She’s fine in jail. If you saw her condition, you wouldn’t say she’s very ill. I’ve got the paperwork here in my hand,” the official said.

Fedotova wrote on Facebook that officials at the detention center also didn’t give Norman her medication when she needed it. Members of Navalny’s team believe this is why paramedics had to rush her to the hospital.

The news website Znak.com says Irina Norman volunteers with the local chapter of Alexey Navalny’s anti-corruption coalition. On September 12, a court convicted her of repeated violations of Russia’s regulations on public assemblies. In her verdict, the judge stated that she’d taken into account Norman’s medical condition. Sergey Krivonogov, Norman’s common-law husband, says the law enforcement officers in the courtroom “were shocked and admitted that they’d hoped for a simple fine.”

On the morning of September 14, the Sverdlovsk Regional Court rejected Irina Norman’s appeal, leaving her arrest in force. Activists, including Navalny coalition leader Leonid Volkov and former Yekaterinburg Evgeny Roizman, have signed an open letter addressed to Sverlovsk regional officials, demanding Norman’s release.