Navalny's team calls for protests amid reports of failing health

Andrew Cummings
April 19, 2021

US President Joe Biden said Saturday that jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who doctors have warned faces imminent cardiac arrest due to his hunger strike, was in a "totally unfair" situation.

In an interview on Sunday, Sullivan said Joe Biden has made it clear to Russian Federation that if Navalny dies in prison, they will be held accountable by the worldwide community.

France, Germany and the European Union on Sunday joined a growing worldwide chorus of protest at Navalny's plight, and EU foreign ministers will discuss the situation on Monday.

Concerns over Navalny's health have mounted against the background of a spike in tensions between Moscow and the West over a litany of issues, including Russia's troop build-up on Ukraine's border, interference in USA elections and other perceived hostile activities. Navalny is now on a hunger strike inside the jail.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, Navalny's allies put out an urgent call for his supporters to take to the streets en masse across Russian Federation on Wednesday.

"It's time to act".

Leonid Volkov, a top strategist for Navalny, said the demonstrations were called on short notice for Wednesday because "his life hangs in the balance".

"Call on all your acquaintances and take to central squares", wrote Volkov, who heads Navalny's regional offices, adding that the protests should be massive.

On Sunday US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the Kremlin had been warned "that there will be consequences if Mr. Navalny dies".

Authorities have ramped up pressure on Navalny's supporters in recent months, detaining more than 10,000 protesters at opposition demonstrations in January and February.

Prison authorities say they have offered Mr Navalny proper medical care but he has refused it and insisted on being treated by a doctor of his choice from outside the facility, a request they have declined.

Mr Navalny was arrested on January 17 when he returned to Russian Federation from Germany, where had spent five months recovering from Soviet nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. The Kremlin denies the allegation.

Olga Mikhailova, his lawyer, says the 44-year-old is suffering from two spinal hernias.

Navalny, 44, has been on hunger strike since March 31 because he says Russian prison guards are refusing him proper treatment for acute pain in his back and numbness in his legs.

Navalny's personal doctor Anastasia Vasilyeva and three more doctors including cardiologist Yaroslav Ashikhmin have asked prison officials to grant them immediate access.

In response, the USA president told reporters that it is "totally unfair" and "totally inappropriate". "In terms of the specific measures that we would take, we are looking at a variety of different costs that we would impose and I'm not going to telegraph that publicly at this point".

The rising tensions between the former Soviet republics come against the background of a war of words between Moscow and Washington as US President Joe Biden seeks a tougher line against Putin.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called Navalny's detention "politically motivated" and said "Russian authorities are responsible for Mr Navalny's safety and health".

The activist's blood potassium level were at 7.1 mmol (millimole) per liter, his doctors said - higher than the level of 6.0 which usually requires immediate treatment.

Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said on Saturday that the situation was critical. "In his state, it is a matter of days".

Other reports by iNewsToday