Amid worldwide concerns over the declining health of imprisoned Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny, a top doctor has said the Putin-critic is close to death. The opposition figure, who was poisoned last year and recovered after lengthy treatment in Germany, could suffer a cardiac arrest at 'any minute', his doctor said.
''Our patient can die any minute,' cardiologist Yaroslav Ashikhmin said on Facebook. The doctor explained that Navalny sufferes from high potassium levels in blood. 'Fatal arrhythmia can develop any minute," the doctor added, according to the Daily Mail.
High Blood Potassium Levels
Medical experts say that blood potassium levels above 6.0 mmol (millimole) per litre warrants immediate treatment. The blood potassium levels in Navalny's case are far higher at 7.1, according to the doctors who treat him.
"This means both impaired renal function and that serious heart rhythm problems can happen any minute,' his personal doctor Anastasia Vasilyeva said in a statement.
"Alexei is dying ... With his condition it's a matter of days," the doctor said.
Navalny, 44, was thrown into prison in February after he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years ion embezzlement charges. The sentencing came six months after he was poisoned with nerve agent Novichok while in Siberia. Though he was critically ill, advanced treatment in Germany saved him.
'Kremlin Slowly Killing Him'
However, his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh has said Navalny's situation has become critical once again. One of the factors that complicated his case was a hunger strike he put up last month in protest against prison conditions and his inhuman treatment.
Amnesty International said earlier this month that Navalny was being slowly killed by Kremlin. The conditions in the prison are akin to torture, the human rights watchdog said, amid widespread concerns that Navalny's health is in the decline.
"I have declared a hunger strike demanding that the law be upheld and a doctor of my choice allowed to visit me," Navalny had said.
The rights watchdog said Navalny is held subjected to sleep deprivation and that he did not have access to a doctor. "Russia, the Russian authorities, may be placing him into a situation of a slow death and seeking to hide what is happening to him .. Clearly the Russian authorities are violating his rights. We have to do more ... [They] have already attempted to kill him, they are now detaining him, and imposing prison conditions, that amount to torture," said Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International's secretary general.
Exposed Official Corruption
Navalny earned Putin's ire by exposing official corruption and labeling Putin's United Russia as "the party of crooks and thieves." Last year, before his poisoning, he said the Russian vote on constitutional reforms was a "coup" and a "violation of the constitution." The constitutional reform was meant to help Putin stay as president for two more terms beyond the current one.
Despite international angst over Navalny's health, Moscow has declined to comment on his health. The government insists that the dissident's health is a matter for the federal penitentiary service. It says Navalny is getting all the 'necessary' treatments.