Navalny supporters arrested outside his colony

Pokrov, Russia: Russian police arrested supporters of anti-Kremlin Alexei Navalny outside his penal colony in east Moscow on Tuesday after they were refused assessed to the imprisoned Kremlin critic, who is on hunger strike in protest of insufficient medical care in the jail.

Anastasia Vasilyeva, Navalny's personal doctor and the president of the Alliance of Doctors medical labor union, which is critical of the regime, was among those arrested, according to the party and AFP journalists on the scene.

Anastasia's lawyer later said that she would be going to Moscow, although it was unknown if she had been formally released.

Meanwhile, a CNN journalist was arrested before being released several hours later, according to his Twitter account.

In a statement, police in the Vladimir area, where Navalny's penal colony is located, said nine people were detained for breaching "public order."

According to them, about 45 people had gathered at the colony, including 30 journalists and bloggers.

Supporters of the 44-year-old opposition politician, including some physicians in white medical coats, arrived in Pokrov, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of Moscow, to seek admission to Navalny, but were turned down.

Last Wednesday, Navalny went on a hunger strike to demand adequate medical attention for extreme back pain and numbness in both legs, claiming he had just been given painkillers.

On Monday, President Vladimir Putin's most outspoken critic revealed that he was now suffering from a severe cough and fever and that three people in his prison unit had been diagnosed with tuberculosis.

Later that day, the pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia announced, quoting the local branch of Russia's FSIN prison service, that Navalny had been moved to the colony infirmary and checked for the coronavirus. On Tuesday, the FSIN declined to comment.

Navalny, who survived a near-fatal poisoning last August, has lost 13 kilograms (28 pounds) in the penal colony, including five kilograms in the last fortnight, according to his lawyer Olga Mikhailova.

Navalny's doctor Vasilyeva accused authorities of violating his rights by refusing to treat him properly.

"We are doctors -- that's why we are here today. Health should be a priority," she told reporters outside the penal colony, stressing that Navalny must be transferred to a "normal" hospital.

"Real possibility that Russia is slowly killing (Navalnay)"

Later that day, Vasilyeva's lawyer, Dmitry Dzhulay, told the state-run TASS news agency that she was returning to Moscow to ensure she did not break her curfew limits on charges linked to another rally.

These charges were filed against her in January for reportedly breaking coronavirus pandemic prohibitions by encouraging people to attend rallies in favor of Navalny.

In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Navalny's wife Yulia said she had received a letter from the director of the Pokrov colony stating that prison authorities did not have the opposition figure's passport, preventing him from being hospitalized or released early.

"Don't you forget, boss man, that if the unthinkable happens to Alexei, his death would be on Putin's conscience and yours, but Putin will throw you under the bus and make you a scapegoat," Navalnaya wrote, addressing the penal colony chief.

Agnes Callamard, the secretary-general of Amnesty International, said on Monday that she had written to Putin advising him to ensure that Navalny has "immediate access to a medical doctor he trusts."

"There is a real possibility that Russia is slowly killing him," Callamard wrote on Twitter.

Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman, said on Tuesday that he was unaware of Callamard's message, but that Navalny was not entitled to preferential treatment.

Also read | Navalny says continuing hunger strike despite cough, fever

"Naturally, we cannot talk about any special conditions for one of the convicts," Peskov said.

Navalny was apprehended in January after returning from Germany, where he had spent months suffering from a poisoning attack that he blamed on the Kremlin.

He is serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence for violating the parole provisions of a suspended sentence on old fraud charges in a penal colony notorious for its brutal conditions, according to rights activists.

Despite his declining health, Navalny announced on Monday that he would resume his hunger strike.

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