Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny stands inside a glass cell during a hearing at Babushkinsky District Court in Moscow on February 20, 2021.
Kirill Kudryavtsev | AFP | Getty Images
A doctor for jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is in the third week of a hunger strike, said his health was deteriorating rapidly and the 44-year-old Kremlin critic could be on the verge of death.
Doctor Yaroslav Ashikhmin said on Saturday that test results he received from Navalny’s family showed him severely high potassium levels, which can cause cardiac arrest, and high creatinine levels indicating kidney failure.
“Our patient could die at any time,” he said in a Facebook post.
Navalny-backed Alliance of Doctors union leader Anastasia Vasilyeva said on Twitter that “action must be taken immediately.”
Navalny is the most visible and categorical opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
His personal doctors were not allowed to see him in prison. He went on a hunger strike to protest the refusal to let them visit when he began to experience severe back pain and loss of sensation in his legs. The Russian State Prison Service said Navalny was receiving all the medical help he needed.
Navalny was arrested on January 17 upon his return from Germany to Russia, where he had spent five months recovering from poisoning with a Soviet nerve agent he attributes to the Kremlin. Russian officials have denied any involvement and even questioned whether Navalny had been poisoned, which has been confirmed by several European laboratories.
Asked about the worsening condition of Navalny, US President Joe Biden told reporters on Saturday: “It’s totally unfair and totally inappropriate. On the basis of poison and then a hunger strike.”
Navalny was ordered to serve 2.5 years in prison on the grounds that his long recovery in Germany violated a suspended sentence imposed on him for fraud in a case which Navalny said was politically motivated.