Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny. Picture: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV
Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny. Picture: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV

Moscow — Allies of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said on Thursday that they want proof that he is healthy after his lawyers were denied access to him and the Russian prison service issued a sparse statement saying his health is satisfactory.

His supporters said on Wednesday that they are concerned by a deterioration in his health and his lawyers said they have not been allowed to visit him in prison.

They returned on Thursday to try to see him, something they said they have not been allowed to do so far.

Leonid Volkov, a close Navalny ally, said on Wednesday that Navalny began to experience serious back pain last week, felt a numbness in his leg and has been unable to stand on it. He was given two Ibuprofen pills for the pain, Volkov said.

The federal penitentiary service said earlier on Thursday that the opposition politician’s health was stable and satisfactory. It said prisons in the Vladimir region, where Navalny is being held, carried out medical examinations on inmates on Wednesday.

The checks were conducted at inmates’ request, it said, and Navalny had been examined too.

“His health is deemed stable and satisfactory, according to the results of the examination,” the Interfax news agency cited the penitentiary service as saying.

The statement did not satisfy Navalny allies. “Now we are really worried,” Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation wrote on Twitter. “Even the federal penitentiary service can’t call Navalny’s condition good.”

Navalny was jailed in February for 2.5 years on charges he calls politically motivated. He was arrested as he returned to Russia from Germany in January where he had been recovering from what doctors said was a nerve agent poisoning.

On Tuesday, Navalny’s allies announced plans to stage what they hope will be the biggest anti-Kremlin street protest in modern Russian history later in the year in a bid to have him released. The authorities have said such protests are illegal.


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