Stop tormenting Alexey Navalny! In an open letter to President Putin, Russian doctors demand medical help for the imprisoned opposition politician
On January 9, Alexey Navalny’s Twitter account was updated with the news that the imprisoned politician had been sent on New Year’s Eve into “punitive confinement” — for the tenth consecutive time. Although the maximum time of permitted confinement in the so-called “ShIZO” is 15 days, the penitentiary where he serves his term is evading this limit by locking Navalny in a “punishment cell” for “separate,” back-to-back stretches. What’s worse, according to Navalny’s lawyer Vadim Kobzev, his client is confined to a penal cell with “a fever, chills, and a cough.” The prison, meanwhile, refuses to deliver any medicines mailed or brought by visitors. Alexander Polupan and Alexander Vanyukov, two Russian doctors gravely concerned about Navalny’s health, are now gathering signatures for an open letter from Russia’s medical community addressed to Vladimir Putin. In their letter posted on Facebook, the physicians demand “an end to tormenting Navalny” in prison. More than 170 doctors have signed the letter. Meduza in English has translated what it says.
We write as members of the medical community and as Russian citizens. Our work is to treat people and to lessen their suffering. We cannot and have no right to be indifferent to the deliberate harm being inflicted upon the health of the politician Alexey Navalny at Penal Colony No. 6 of the federal penitentiary system for the Vladimir region.
Each citizen of the Russian Federation, according to Article 41 of the Russian Federal Constitution, has the right to healthcare and medical assistance. According to […] the federal law […] “On the fundamentals of healthcare for citizens of the Russian Federation,” persons who are in state custody or serving a prison sentence have the right to healthcare, including access to state and municipal medical organizations.
The conditions around Alexey Navalny and his appearance give us grave concern about his life and health. The penitentiary system’s refusal to pass necessary medicines to Alexey poses a direct threat to the life of a Russian citizen, of Alexey Navalny. From a medical point of view, it’s obvious that Alexey isn’t getting appropriate medical help, and keeping him in a penal cell is absolutely contrary to medical indications for a person in his condition.
We demand an end to tormenting Alexey Navalny; we demand an end to sending Alexey to the penal cell; we demand that civilian doctors are permitted to see him, and to hospitalize him in a civilian clinic in case of medical indications for his full evaluation and treatment.
We demand that Alexey Navalny’s right to appropriate medical help is enforced, in accordance with articles of the Russian Federal Constitution, whose guarantor you are.
Update: More than 480 Russian physicians have already signed the open letter to Vladimir Putin. Doctors who would like to join them in supporting Navalny can do it in the comments under Alexander Vanyukov’s Facebook post.