Kremlin Critic Navalny ‘Could Die Any Moment’, As per Doctors

Navalny has been on a hunger strike from 31 March to demand access to a civilian doctor and proper medical care.

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Alexei Navalny, a 44-year-old staunch critic of President Vladimir Putin, was on a ventilator and in a coma.
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Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s health has rapidly deteriorated, as per doctors on Saturday, 17 April. He is risking a cardiac arrest at any minute, as per AFP.

He has been on a hunger strike from 31 March, to demand access to a civilian doctor and proper medical care for pain and numbness in his hands and legs.

His wife, Yulia had earlier visited him in jail and told the media that her husband had lost 9 kg due to the hunger strike.

Navalny was arrested shortly after his flight from Berlin back to Moscow on 17 January. Authorities claimed that the return was a violation of the terms of a suspended 2014 conviction in a money-laundering case, which Navalny maintains was an illegitimate case. On arriving at Sheremetyevo airport, he was arrested.

Faced Multiple Threats to His Life

Navalny has faced multiple threats to his life. In 2018, Navalny was attacked with a bright green liquid in the Siberian city of Barnaul, by an assailant who pretended to shake his hand. In 2019, he suffered an allergic reaction in jail, allegedly from an unknown chemical substance.

On 20 August 2020 Navalny's spokesperson announced that after drinking tea while in an airport, the activist became violently ill during a flight. The plane made an emergency landing and he was rushed to a hospital in Germany.

Navalny was taken out of the coma, less than three weeks later. The German government said labs in France and Sweden confirmed that Navalny had been poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok.

It was after this hospital recovery that he returned to Russia, which led to his arrest.

What the Doctors Are Saying

Navalny, Russia’s most well-known prisoner needs to be moved to urgent care based on his very high potassium levels, as per his doctors, Anastasia Vasilyeva and three more doctors, including cardiologist Yaroslav Ashikhmin, as per the report.

“Our patient can die any minute,” posted Ashikhmin on social media on Saturday.

Navalny’s doctors now say that considering his recent poisoning, and his blood work, he needs immediate care. They believe that his current hunger strike may have worsened his condition, as his potassium levels were at 7.1, higher than 6.0 millimole per litre. This may lead to impaired renal function and cardiac issues, said his doctors, as per AFP.

International Support

United States President, Joe Biden has extended solidarity to Navalny, calling his situation as “totally unfair, totally inappropriate”. As per AFP, over 70 prominent figures, including writers, artists, actors and academicians registered their appeal to call on Russian President Putin to give Navalny access to treatment. The appeal was published on Friday on Le Monde, a French newspaper.

Navalny’s team, as per the report, is working to organise “Modern Russia’s biggest protest”, for which, by Saturday, there were 450,000 sign ups.

Who is Navalny?

Navalny is a lawyer-turned-activist and a strong critic of President Putin. The 44-year-old blogger has millions of Russian followers on social media. He shot to fame when his blogs began exposing the corruption in the Russian government in the late 2000s.

His campaign against Putin had resulted in him getting arrested multiple times. In 2011 Navalny was arrested for the first time for his role at a rally outside the State Duma in Moscow.

In 2012, Putin ordered Russia's Investigative Committee to launch a criminal inquiry into Navalny's past. The following year the campaigner was charged and sentenced again, this time for five years, for alleged embezzlement in the city of Kirov. However, he was released the following day, pending affirmation from a higher court. The sentence was later suspended.

In December 2016, the Opposition leader announced the formal start of his campaign to run for the Russian presidency in March 2018. However, he was barred from running for the post due to multiple allegations of corruption being levelled against him.

(With inputs from AFP)

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