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Navalny Tests Negative For COVID, Losing Weight From Hunger Strike, Says Lawyer


Police officers wearing face masks to protect against the coronavirus guard an entrance to Correctional Colony No. 2 in Pokrov on April 6.
Police officers wearing face masks to protect against the coronavirus guard an entrance to Correctional Colony No. 2 in Pokrov on April 6.

Jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny is losing about 1 kilogram a day, his lawyer said, as he continues his hunger strike amid growing concerns about his overall health after he reported a severe cough and high temperature.

Vadim Kobzev, a member of Navalny's legal team, said in a post to Twitter on April 7 that his temperature remained elevated but down slightly from the previous day.

"Aleksei walks by himself. Feels pain when walking. A very disturbing factor is that the disease is clearly progressing in terms of loss of sensitivity in the legs, palms, and hands," he wrote in a separate tweet.

Earlier, Olga Mikhailova, another member of Navalny's legal team, said he had had an initial test for exposure to coronavirus and that had come back negative. She said they were waiting results of a second.

The White House said that it was "disturbed" by reports that Navalny's condition is deteriorating and urged Russian authorities to ensure his health and safety.

Navalny is only months removed from a near-fatal nerve-agent poisoning in Siberia last summer. He was imprisoned after returning to Russia in January following his recuperation in Germany. He is now being held in what is known as one of Russia's toughest penitentiaries, about 100 kilometers east of Moscow.

Navalny announced his hunger strike last week to protest what he has called deliberate attempts to deprive him of sleep and the failure of authorities to provide proper medical treatment for his back and leg pains. Since entering prison last month he has lost a total of 13 kilograms, his lawyers have said.

Navalny "continues his hunger strike. HIs weight is steadily dropping by 1 kg per day. All that the administration of the colony is currently doing is trying to dissuade him from the hunger strike," Kobzev tweeted, adding that the Kremlin foe remained in the medical unit of the colony.

His temperature "is constantly being measured," the lawyer said, adding: "Yesterday it was 38.4 [degrees Celsius], the day before yesterday it was 39, and today it is about 37.2."

Meanwhile, the White House reiterated that it considers Navalny's imprisonment "politically motivated and a gross injustice," and urged Russian authorities to "take all necessary actions to ensure his safety."

"So long as he is in prison, the Russian government is responsible for his health and well being," press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

A day earlier, on April 6, Anastasia Vasilyeva, his personal doctor, was rebuffed by prison officials in her efforts to see Navalny, and she was later detained outside the prison, along with at least nine other supporters.

Head Of Russian Doctors' Alliance Detained Outside Prison Holding Navalny
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Vasilyeva is also the outspoken head of the Alliance of Doctors union, and has been vocally critical of the Kremlin's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two of those detained along with Vasilyeva -- Artyom Boriskin, and his press secretary Valeria Merkulova -- remain in custody, charged with violating the law regulating gatherings near penitentiaries, according to a Navalny ally, Sergei Ukhov.

Boriskin and Merkulova will remain in custody until a court decides on their pretrial restrictions, Ukhov said.

Two days earlier, Navalny's allies said in a post published to his Instagram account that he had a "severe cough" and fever of 38.1 degrees Celsius, after a third prisoner in his crowded quarters had been sent to the hospital with suspected tuberculosis.

Navalny's health condition is potentially precarious because of his exposure to a military grade nerve-agent last August. He has accused President Vladimir Putin of ordering security agents to assassinate him, something the Kremlin denies.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said Navalny would receive the necessary medical care but no preferential treatment.

Isolation And Sleep Deprivation: Life In Prison Where Navalny Is Reportedly Being Held
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A lawyer who has gained widespread popularity for his investigations into official corruption and his slashing wit, Navalny was arrested at a Moscow airport in January on charges of violating his parole, sparking large-scale protests.

A Moscow court found him guilty of violating the terms of his parole from an older embezzlement case that is widely considered to be politically motivated, and his suspended sentenced was converted to jail time.

With reporting by TASS. Reuters, AFP, and Idel.Realities
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