Speed Reads

Navalny vs. Putin

Allies urgently call for protests next week amid reports of imprisoned Navalny's deteriorating health

Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny could die "in a matter of days," his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh wrote on Facebook on Saturday, NPR reports.

Navalny, who nearly died after a poisoning he has blamed on Russian President Vladimir Putin last August, is currently being held in a notorious penal colony outside of Moscow, where he is three weeks into a hunger strike. His physician Yaroslav Ashikhmin said test results Navalny's family shared with him showed he was at increased risk of cardiac arrest because of elevated potassium levels, and that his kidneys were deteriorating. "Our patient could die at any moment," Ashikhmin said in a translated Facebook post, per NPR.

The Kremlin has prevented Navalny's personal doctors from seeing him and insists he's receiving adequate care. Andrei Kelin, Russia's ambassador to the United Kingdom, told BBC on Sunday that Navalny "will not be allowed to die in prison" and suggested the Kremlin critic was merely trying to "attract attention."

Meanwhile, on Sunday, Navalny's allies put out an urgent call for his supporters to take to the streets en masse across Russia on Wednesday. Before the reports of Navalny's worsening condition, his team was determined to wait until 500,000 people had signed up to join the demonstration before announcing a date, but they've decided they can no longer wait for what they're calling "the final battle between good and neutrality." A "massive police crackdown" is expected in response, CNN's Bianna Golodryga reports. Read more at NPR.