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Navalny’s private doctors urge him to end hunger strike after examination at civilian hospital

Alexey Navalny’s private doctors are urging him to end his prison hunger strike following confirmation that he was taken to a “civilian hospital in Vladimir” for an examination on Tuesday, April 20.

According to Navalny’s chief of staff, Leonid Volkov, this took place “as soon as” the opposition politician’s associates announced the planned time and date of the nationwide solidarity rallies, which took place on April 21 (the announcement was made on April 18). Navalny’s lawyers were “suddenly handed all of the paperwork from the examinations and the tests” the day after the demonstrations (April 22), Volkov said.

“The doctors looked at them and wrote that [Navalny] needs to give up his hunger strike immediately. But they also write that great progress has been made: the tests they asked for have been carried out and the information needed to prescribe correct treatment has been obtained.”

In a letter published by Mediazona on April 22, Navalny’s private doctors appeal to the Kremlin critic to end his prison hunger strike immediately. “If his hunger strike will continue even for a minimal [amount] of time, unfortunately, we will soon have no one to treat. Our main task is to preserve the life and health of our patient,” the doctors write.

The doctors add that at the civilian hospital in Vladimir on April 20, Navalny “received access to something similar to an independent examination.” As such, they believe he has received adequate medical treatment and should end his hunger strike.

In their appeal, the doctors once again demanded access to Navalny, and called for him to be transferred to a hospital in Moscow. “Given the complexity of his condition due to the previous severe damage to his nervous system by a chemical warfare agent, he can only be provided with proper care and the appropriate level of medical treatment there,” the letter says.

“It’s very sad that in order to achieve such a result, you have to spend 23 days on hunger strike, collect appeals from hundreds of global celebrities, urgently hold a Russia-wide rally, gather thousands of signatures from doctors, teachers, philanthropists, and simply not indifferent people from all over Russia. It’s very good that no matter how the system tries to portray [itself] as a deaf and dumb, thousand-ton, black monolith, in fact it continues to respond to internal and external pressure.

Leonid Volkov

Alexey Navalny has been on hunger strike since March 31, demanding access to trusted doctors. He has complained about pain in his back and numbness in his legs for several weeks. Russian prison officials have maintained that the opposition politician is receiving all necessary medical treatment.

Navalny was transferred to a prisoners’ hospital on April 19. His lawyer, Vadim Kobzev, says that he’s being kept in an isolation cell in a tuberculosis hospital. Neither prison officials nor Navalny’s lawyers have reported him being taken outside of the prison previously.

On April 21, Russia’s Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova said that the day before, Navalny was visited by four “civilian doctors,” who work for state hospitals in the Vladimir region. Apparently, these doctors were “not from the FSIN [Federal Penitentiary Service] system.” Moskalkova noted that there aren’t any “serious concerns” about Navalny’s health “so far.” 

Rallies in support of Navalny took place in dozens of Russian cities on April 21. Law enforcement officers arrested more than 1,800 people amid the demonstrations; nearly half of these arrests took place in St. Petersburg; in Moscow, the police took a hands-off approach and only detained about two dozen people. 

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Alexey Navalny is being transferred to a prisoners’ hospital notorious for abusing inmates

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Alexey Navalny is being transferred to a prisoners’ hospital notorious for abusing inmates

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