Navalny vs. Putin
April 23, 2021

Alexei Navalny, the imprisoned critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, will end his three-week hunger strike following recent warnings that his health is deteriorating and he could be near death.

Navalny announced Friday he will end his hunger strike, which he began on March 31 in protest of not being allowed to see private doctors in prison to be treated for medical issues, Axios reports.

"I do not withdraw the requirement to admit the necessary doctor to me — I am losing sensitivity in parts of my arms and legs, and I want to understand what it is and how to treat it, but taking into account the progress and all the circumstances, I am starting to get out of the hunger strike," Navalny wrote on Instagram, per CNN.

Navalny, who has blamed his poisoning last year on Putin, was recently moved to a prison hospital after physician Yaroslav Ashikhmin warned of Navalny's elevated levels of potassium, saying "our patient could die at any moment." Five doctors for Navalny urged him in a letter this week to "immediately" end the hunger strike "to preserve his life and health," per The Washington Post.

On Friday, Navalny wrote that he now been examined by civilian doctors, according to The Associated Press. "Thanks to the huge support of good people across the country and around the world, we have made huge progress," he said. Brendan Morrow

April 19, 2021

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been taken to a prison hospital after his team warned his health is deteriorating and he could die "in a matter of days."

Navalny, the prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was moved to a hospital in a high security prison by Russian authorities on Monday, The New York Times reports.

"With the patient's consent, he was prescribed vitamin therapy," Russia's federal penitentiary service said, per The Washington Post.

Navalny for three weeks has been on a hunger strike, which he began to protest authorities not allowing him to see his personal doctors, according to The Associated Press. He was hospitalized last year after being poisoned with a nerve agent, which he has blamed on Putin.

Physician Yaroslav Ashikhmin has warned that test results show Navalny may be at risk of cardiac arrest due to increased levels of potassium, per NPR. On Friday, Ashikhmin wrote on Facebook, "Our patient could die at any moment." The U.S. has said that Russia will face "consequences if Mr Navalny dies."

After news of his transfer to a prison hospital was announced, top Navalny strategist Leonid Volkov dismissed this step, per The Associated Press, saying, "Until the lawyers locate him, we won't know where he is and what is up with him." Brendan Morrow

April 18, 2021

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. Tim O'Donnell

February 20, 2021

A Russian court on Saturday rejected leading Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny's appeal against his prison sentence.

The decision, which was expected, did reduce the term by about six weeks, but the opposition leader is now facing around two-and-a-half years in prison. It's unclear whether Navalny will be moved from the high-security Moscow prison where he's currently being held to a penal colony, but the squashed appeal does pave the way for such a transfer, The New York Times reports.

The Kremlin is expected to face international backlash over the latest development. Per Reuters, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said the Council of Europe could soon impose sanctions on Russia if Navalny isn't freed, and the Times notes Moscow, which joined the human rights-focused council in 1996, could potentially withdraw or face expulsion.

Navalny, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's top rivals, was detained for violating parole (Navalny has said the charges are politically motivated) in January upon returning to Moscow from Berlin, where he spent months recovering from a poisoning, which he and others allege was carried out by Russia's FSB spy agency. The detention sparked mass protests across Russia, resulting in thousands of arrests. Read more at The New York Times and Reuters. Tim O'Donnell

February 2, 2021

Alexey Navalny, the Russian opposition leader and leading critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been sentenced to 2.5 years in prison.

A Moscow court jailed Navalny on Tuesday for alleged parole violations after he received a suspended sentence in a 2014 embezzlement case, NBC News reports. Those original charges against him were "widely seen as politically motivated," Axios notes.

Navalny recently returned to Moscow after recovering from a poisoning that he has accused Putin of ordering, which the Kremlin has denied. During a hearing on Tuesday, he delivered a scathing speech, saying Putin will "go down in history as nothing but a poisoner." He also dismissed the charges against him as fabricated and argued that he was detained when he returned to Moscow because "I mortally offended" Putin by surviving the poisoning.

"The aim of that hearing is to scare a great number of people," Navalny also said Tuesday, per The Associated Press. "You can't jail the entire country."

Following the sentencing, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States is "deeply concerned by Russia's actions toward" Navalny, reiterating "our call for his immediate and unconditional release as well as the release of all those wrongfully detained for exercising their rights." Brendan Morrow

February 2, 2021

During a hearing Tuesday that will determine if he will remain in prison for several years, Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny gave a scathing speech directly aimed at Russian President Putin, whom Navalny has accused of ordering the poisoning that nearly took his life last year.

Navalny began by the speech, which Meduza translated into English, by arguing he is on trial for a fabricated, seven-year-old embezzlement case, and that the real reason he was detained upon returning to Moscow from Berlin last month is Putin's "hatred and fear" because "I mortally offended him by surviving." Navalny added that he didn't "run and hide" after the poisoning and ultimately went on to prove Putin was responsible for the murder attempt (the Kremlin denies any involvement.) As a result, Navalny said, Putin is "simply going insane" while he hides in a bunker.

"Murder is the only way [Putin] knows how to fight. He'll go down in history as nothing but a poisoner. We all remember Alexander the Liberator and Yaroslav the Wise. Well, now we'll have Vladimir the Underpants Poisoner," Navalny continued, referring to the fact that he may have been exposed to the nerve agent through his underpants.

Navalny expanded the speech beyond Putin toward the end, painting a bleak picture of Russia, where he said millions of people live in poverty with "no prospects for the future" while the "only thing growing ... is the number of billionaires." But he promised to keep fighting so the "law prevails" even though "my life isn't worth two cents," acknowledging there are Russians "who aren't afraid ... who will never hand our country over to a bunch of corrupt officials." Read the full translation at Meduza. Tim O'Donnell

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