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Doctors denied access to jailed Navalny as health concerns grow


VLADIMIR: Alexei Navalny’s doctors were again denied access on Tuesday to the jailed Kremlin critic despite growing concern over the hunger-striking Russian opposition figure’s failing health.

A team of medics has been attempting to see the 44-year-old since early this month, after President Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken opponent launched a hunger strike on March 31 demanding proper medical treatment for a litany of ailments.

Nearly three weeks into the hunger strike, his doctors over the weekend warned that Navalny’s health was failing so rapidly he could die at “any minute,” as the United States threatened Russia with “consequences” in the event of his death.

Russia’s prison service, which has repeatedly prevented Navalny’s doctors from visiting him, said on Monday that he had been moved from his penal colony in the Vladimir region some 100 kilometres east of Moscow to a medical facility at another colony in the same region.

A team of physicians including Navalny’s personal doctor Anastasia Vasilyeva travelled Tuesday morning to the new colony and was once again barred from seeing him. It was told however to try again later in the day.

“This is super disrespectful to people who came to fulfil their human duty, a medical duty to help a patient,” Vasilyeva said outside the colony.

“We are talking now only about health and life.”

Navalny’s lawyers also arrived at the penal colony on Tuesday and were allowed in, an AFP journalist at the scene reported.

But Navalny’s chief of staff Leonid Volkov tweeted that the lawyers were being told to wait and predicted they would not be allowed to see their client.

Navalny is serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence for violating parole terms on old fraud charges he says are politically motivated.

His lawyers and allies are demanding he is transferred to a regular hospital, but the Kremlin has said Navalny is not entitled to special treatment.

Concern has grown in the West in recent days over his condition.

Germany said the European Union would be closely watching to ensure Navalny received necessary care, while Britain called for his release.

The Kremlin has dismissed the outcry, saying that Russian convicts do not concern Western countries. — AFP

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