Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is transferred to a hospital. The Russian state prison service FSIN has decided to do this. Navalny has been on hunger strike for three weeks.
FSIN said in a statement that Navalny will be transferred to a convict hospital in another penal colony in Vladimir, a city 180 kilometers east of the capital, Moscow. According to FSIN, Navalny’s condition is “satisfactory” and is examined daily by a doctor. The statement states that Navalny has agreed to take vitamin supplements.
It is not clear exactly when it will be moved. “Given his health, however, it will not be long delayed,” says correspondent Geert Groot Koerkamp.
The announcement comes two days after Navalny’s doctor said his health deteriorates rapidly and that the 44-year-old Kremlin critic could be on the verge of death. Navalny’s blood contains too much potassium, which can cause cardiac arrest, wrote the doctor who received test results from the opposition leader’s family.
Call from various quarters
About seventy prominent figures from the art and culture world President Putin called on last weekend to provide Navalny with adequate medical assistance. The call has been signed by Nobel laureates like JM Coetzee, Orhan Pamuk and Svetlana Aleksijevich, writers like JK Rowling and Salman Rushdie, historians Simon Schama and Orlando Figes, journalists David Remnick and Anne Applebaum, actors Jude Law and Ralph Fiennes and former Abba member Björn Ulvaeus.
“That call will undoubtedly have contributed to his being moved,” said the correspondent. “There is a lot going on now. Previously, doctors have also written an open letter. And dozens of Russians have gone on a hunger strike in solidarity to put pressure on the government.”
In addition, the supporters of Navalny yesterday announced a demonstration. They hope to get more than half a million people together on Wednesday.
“The decision to transfer could have been partly prompted to take the wind out of the sails”, Groot Koerkamp thinks. “Protesters might consider not taking to the streets. Because demonstrating is a risky business in Russia.” But the White House has also announced that Russia can expect sanctions from the US should Navalny die.
Navalny has been President Putin’s main critic and challenger for years, but his movement does not advocate armed insurrection or revolution. At the beginning of this year, Navalny was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison in a penal camp for violating the rules of a previous suspended sentence and for insulting a war veteran.