Alexei Navalny’s Health ‘Critical’ After Suspected Prison Poisoning, Says Ally
A friend of jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny says he is in a “critical” situation after possibly being poisoned in prison.An ambulance was dispatched last week to the IK-6 penal colony where Navalny is being held. “Our theory is that they are gradually killing him, using slow-acting poison which is applied through food,” Navalny
A friend of jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny says he is in a “critical” situation after possibly being poisoned in prison.
An ambulance was dispatched last week to the IK-6 penal colony where Navalny is being held. “Our theory is that they are gradually killing him, using slow-acting poison which is applied through food,” Navalny ally Ruslan Shaveddinov told The Guardian on Friday.
“His situation is critical, we are all very concerned,” Shaveddinov said. “We understand that the situation must have been very bad if an ambulance was called.” Prison authorities are also allegedly refusing to send Navalny to the hospital and are instead “doing everything possible to isolate him.”
Navalny, 46, was sent to the maximum security penal colony around 155 miles east of Moscow after being convicted on charges including contempt of court and fraud. His 11-and-a-half-year sentence has been criticized by human rights activists who view the jailing as an attempt to break one of the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken critics.
Navalny’s spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, said Tuesday that one of his lawyers had informed her that Navalny was suffering “acute stomach pain” and that no one is “treating him” or even “telling him the diagnosis.” Yarmysh added that Navalny had lost over 17 pounds while spending “the last 15 days in the punishment cell.”
Shaveddinov said the theory that Navalny is being slowly poisoned seems “completely plausible” in light of a 2src2src attempt on his life using Novichok, a Soviet-made nerve agent. A Bellingcat report into the incident implicated a team of Russian FSB agents in the attack, with Putin being forced to admit that agents had been tracking Navalny. He ultimately dismissed the damning report as “fabrications,” however.
“I am actually terrified because no one knows what is happening,” Yarmysh told CBC News on Thursday. “Everyone is very concerned.” She explained that she believes Navalny’s mysterious illness could be the result of an order that “comes from above.”
“I am completely sure that it’s Putin who decides what will happen with Alexei,” she said, adding: “The thing is that Putin doesn’t have any red lines that he wouldn’t cross. We know it for sure. We know that he already tried to kill Alexei, so nothing can stop him to try again.”
Aside from being concerned about his health, Navalny’s allies say he has spent months in a punishment cell—a “shtrafnoy izolyator” or “shizo”—in an effort to grind him down. “You cannot sleep properly in shizo, there is no access to prison food shop and it is hard to write and read letters because of the poor lighting,” Shaveddinov told the Guardian.
In a call with reporters Thursday, Putin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin is not keeping track of Navalny’s health in prison and referred questions about the matter to Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service.