Amnesty International has said Russian Opposition figure Alexey Navalny is being slowly killed by Kremlin, which has kept him in prison conditions that are totally inhumane. 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.
Navalny was poisoned last year with a military-grade nerve agent in a sensational display of the Russian state power being used to silence the critics of President Vladimir Putin. Weeks after Navalny was sentenced to a three-year prison term, the doctor who treated him died under mysterious circumstances, deepening the plot around the Putin-critic's poisoning.
Sleep Deprivation, No Access to Doctor
The Opposition figure was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. Moscow, which accuses Navalny of trying to destabilize Russia in collusion with the Western powers, argues that there is no sufficient evidence to prove that he was poisoned in the first place.
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.
On Hunger Strike
The 44-year-old, who recovered from poisoning after undergoing prolonged treatment in Germany, went on a hunger strike in the prison accusing the jail authorities of denying him his rights. 'I have declared a hunger strike demanding that the law be upheld and a doctor of my choice allowed to visit me,' Navalny said.
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.
Russia Mum on Navalny's Health
Navalny had been jailed several times earlier thanks to his activism and and sustained criticism of the Kremlin.
However, 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.
Meanwhile, in a separate development on Wednesday, Reuters reported that Navalny was tested negative for Covid-19.