Alexei Navalny has two herniated discs in his back and is losing feeling in his hands, his lawyers have said, as concerns mount about the opposition leader’s health in a Russian prison.
Olga Mikhailova, a lawyer for the Kremlin critic, confirmed that he had been placed in a prison sick ward and had undergone an MRI after complaining of numbness and pain in his legs and back. She said a doctor had told Navalny about the herniated discs, calling them “difficult to treat”.
Navalny remained feverish and still had a pronounced cough, she said, though his temperature had gone down from 102F (39C) to 99F. Tests had not yet shown that he had contracted coronavirus or tuberculosis, Mikhailova added.
Navalny has continued a hunger strike that he began last week due to what he has called substandard medical care in the IK-2 correctional facility, where he is serving a two-and-a-half year sentence for embezzlement. He has called the sentence revenge for his political opposition to the Kremlin.
Mikhailova said Navalny’s condition may have been exacerbated by the poor medical care provided to him in the IK-2 prison colony. Navalny has repeatedly complained that he has not been allowed to see a specialist of his choosing, a right he says he is entitled to by law.
Mikhailova said she believed that prison authorities were afraid that a visiting specialist would show that “their awful treatment led to the deterioration in his health”.
Navalny’s other lawyer, Vadim Kobzev, told TV Rain that the opposition leader was still on hunger strike and was losing approximately 1kg a day.
Navalny’s lawyers denied local media reports that he had been transferred out of the prison.
Navalny was poisoned with a novichok nerve agent last year in an attack that left him fighting for his life. After receiving treatment in Berlin, he returned to Russia in January, where he was arrested for violating his parole and sentenced to prison.