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Russian dissident Alexei Navalny moved to hospital

By
Darryl Coote & Don Johnson
Supporters rally for jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny during a protest in Los Angeles on February 6. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Supporters rally for jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny during a protest in Los Angeles on February 6. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

April 19 (UPI) -- Hunger-striking Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been transferred from his jail to a correctional hospital amid reports that he's close to death, officials said Monday.

Russia's penitentiary system said Navalny was in "satisfactory" condition and has been examined by a doctor on a daily basis at the high-security prison east of Moscow.

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Officials added that Navalny, who's nearly three weeks into his hunger strike, was prescribed "vitamin therapy" with his consent at the hospital for prisoners.

Josep Borrell, the high representative for the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy, announced later Monday that Navalny's team had informed him that the jailed dissident had been moved but prison hospital but Russian authorities continue to bar him access to his physicians.

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"The Russian authorities must grant him immediate access to the medical professionals that he trusts," he told reporters during a press conference.

"The situation is getting worse," he said, "and today we are passing a united message to the Russian authorities: They are responsible for Navalny's safety and health and we will hold them to account for it."

Navalny's hunger strike began March 31 in the penal colony in Pokrov, calling for proper medical care and access to an independent doctor. Navalny's doctor said over the weekend that he has a high level of potassium in his system and could "die at any moment."

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Navalny, a longtime critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was poisoned last summer and spent months in hospital. Earlier this year, he was jailed for what officials called a parole violation -- because he'd missed an appointment related to a suspended sentence years ago -- when he was in a hospital in Germany.

Russia and Putin have drawn significant backlash from the international community for the treatment of Navalny and efforts to silence his activism. Many believe that his poisoning with the nerve agent novichok last year was ordered by the Kremlin.

The United States, the European Union and other Western governments have sanctioned Russia for Navalny's poisoning. U.S. officials warned Russia on Sunday there will be consequences if he dies.

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"We have communicated that there will be consequences if Mr. Navalny dies," national security adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN.

State Department spokesman Ned Price tweeted that Moscow is responsible for Navalny's condition and called on Russian officials to "allow him access to necessary medical care immediately."

"We call on the Russian authorities to grant him immediate access to medical professionals he trusts," the European Council said in a statement. "The Russian authorities are responsible for Mr. Navalny's safety and health in the penal colony, to which we hold them to account."

Navalny's allies are planning support rallies for Wednesday across Russia.

"There are circumstances in which you need to act quickly, otherwise the irreparable will happen," they posted on Navalny's website. "At such moments, decisions must be made instantly because decisions can change everything.

"Now is the moment."

Last week, the Biden administration sanctioned nearly three dozen Russian individuals and entities and expelled several Russian diplomats and intelligence officers for interfering in the 2020 presidential election. The sanctions were also related to the SolarWinds hack last year. In response, the Kremlin expelled 10 U.S. diplomats.

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