| 19 April 2024, Friday |

Jailed Kremlin critic Navalny ‘more or less’ recovered after hunger strike, prison official reports

Alexei Navalny, Kremlin critic, has ‘more or less’ regained his health after a hunger strike and is able to communicate with his relatives, according to the head of Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service.

Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal domestic critic, is serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence for alleged parole violations.

“I would tell he has more or less regained his fitness,” Alexander Kalashnikov, the head of the Federal Penitentiary Service, told the TASS news agency. “He is now 82 kg (181 lbs). He is eating normally and interacting with his family is possible.”

The 44-year-old opposition politician had declared a hunger strike in late March to demand better medical care in prison after experiencing acute leg and back pain.

His deteriorating health prompted allies to call on his supporters to take to the streets to demand he receive adequate care, but the turnout at those rallies was more modest than expected.

Navalny, who last year survived what German doctors said was a nerve agent poisoning, halted his hunger strike last month after receiving better medical care.

Ivan Zhdanov, one of Navalny’s closest allies, said on Thursday that Navalny’s health condition was generally satisfactory.

Russia in recent weeks has moved to outlaw Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation and regional campaign groups as extremist.

Navalny’s allies have halted much of their operations as a result of the event.

The authorities would be able to arrest activists and freeze their bank accounts if Navalny’s foundation and advocacy groups are officially deemed extremist. The case’s next court appearance is scheduled for June 9.

Navalny’s supporters say the accusations of extremism are an effort to stymie their political opposition to the governing United Russia party ahead of a September parliamentary election.

  • Reuters