Jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny announces hunger strike

In a statement posted on his Instagram account, Navalny says he declared a hunger strike over a lack of medical care.

'I have declared a hunger strike demanding that the law be upheld and a doctor of my choice allowed to visit me,' Navalny said [File: Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters]

Jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny has declared a hunger strike to protest against prison officials’ failure to provide him with medical for what he said was acute pain in his back and both legs.

In his statement posted on his Instagram account on Wednesday, Navalny complained about prison authorities’ refusal to give him the right medicines and to allow his doctor to visit him behind bars.

“What else could I do?” he wrote. “I have declared a hunger strike demanding that they allow a visit by an invited doctor. So I’m lying here, hungry, but still with two legs.”

He also protested the hourly checks a guard makes on him at night, saying they amount to sleep deprivation torture.

The IK-2 corrective penal colony 100km (60 miles) east of Moscow did not immediately comment. Prison authorities, after examining Navalny last week, declared his condition to be stable and satisfactory. The Kremlin has declined to comment on his health.

Medical professionals on Sunday published an open letter demanding that the 44-year-old opposition politician get proper care.

“We fear for the worst. Leaving a patient in this condition … may lead to severe consequences, including an irreversible, full or partial loss of lower limb functions,” the letter said.

The 44-year-old Navalny, who is President Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken opponent, was arrested on January 17 upon his return from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. Russian authorities have rejected the accusation.

The West, including the European Court of Human Rights, has demanded that Russia release Navalny. Moscow has called such appeals unacceptable interference in its internal affairs.

Source: News Agencies