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Head Of Russian Doctors' Alliance Detained While Seeking To Examine Ailing Navalny

By Current Time April 06, 2021

Police have detained the head of the Russian Alliance of Doctors outside a prison after she attempted to seek permission to examine jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny after he was moved to a sick ward with a severe cough and temperature amid reports of a possible tuberculosis outbreak in the facility.

Security around the prison where the Kremlin critic is incarcerated had already been beefed up earlier on April 6 after the Alliance of Doctors trade union called for "humanitarian action" and "qualified treatment" for Navalny.

Anastasia Vasilyeva, the head of the Alliance of Doctors, arrived at the prison and attempted to seek permission to see Navalny, but said prison officials refused to meet with her as "a representative of the medical community."

She added that the head of the prison suggested a written request for visitation be sent by registered mail. A short while later, she was whisked into a police van without explanation.

"They drove up in police vehicles, loaded Anastasia Vasilyeva, along with the head of the Alliance's legal services, Aleksandr Generalov, and two doctors' union members from the region of Perm," a Twitter account for Vasilyeva's team said.

Vasilyeva and other Navalny supporters had gathered at a makeshift checkpoint with a metal barrier that police had set up earlier in the day to block the road leading to the notorious Correctional Colony No. 2, about 100 kilometers from Moscow.

The police cordon came after Navalny said in an Instagram post on April 5 that he had been officially diagnosed with a "severe cough" and a temperature of 38.1 degrees Celsius, which indicates a slight fever, after a third prisoner in his quarters had been sent to the hospital with suspected tuberculosis.

The Alliance of Doctors has been critical of the conditions at the prison, saying doctors "are not provided with enough equipment to manage a patient."

"The medical infirmary at the penitentiary is an isolation ward. They isolated [Navalny] because he showed symptoms of an infectious disease. That is good, but what he needs is not just isolation, but qualified treatment," the deputy head of the medical trade union, Sergei Rybakov said, adding that the union would hold an event near the prison to support Navalny, prompting the police response.

Russian media outlet Sota Vision said a woman who approached the prison with a package of food and medicine for Navalny was turned away.

President Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic is currently incarcerated in what is known as one of the toughest penitentiaries in Russia.

Navalny said his prison unit consists of 15 people, three of whom have been hospitalized with suspected tuberculosis since he arrived.

Tuberculosis is a potentially serious infectious disease that mainly affects the lungs and is spread from person to person through tiny droplets released into the air, mainly via coughs and sneezes.

It has largely been eradicated in developed countries and a person with a healthy immune system often successfully fights it.

In his April 5 post, Navalny said his prison unit has been fed clay-like porridge and frozen potatoes. He is currently on a hunger strike to demand better conditions.

In an April 6 tweet, the 44-year-old said top officials from the prison's medical ward said that they "did not want and would not invite" anyone from outside.

"We remind you that the right to invite a specialist doctor for consultation at his own expense is guaranteed for Navalny by law," his lawyers said in a tweet posted on Navalny's Twitter feed.

"Nobody can forbid this. Such doctors visit many prisoners and only Navalny is being denied," they added.

Malnutrition and weight loss undermine an immune system's ability to fight tuberculosis.

"I have a legally guaranteed right to invite a specialist doctor at my own expense. I will not give up this right as prison doctors can be trusted just as much as state TV," the 44-year-old said in the Instagram post.

Navalny had previously complained of acute back and leg pain as well as sleep deprivation by guards.

Navalny criticized recent news reports by state-owned media that he is serving in a prison with comfortable conditions. He invited state media correspondents to come stay the night in his prison with tuberculosis-infected cellmates.

Russian police arrested Navalny in January upon his return from Germany on charges of violating his parole while abroad, sparking large-scale protests. The anti-corruption fighter had been recuperating in Berlin for several months after being poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent in Siberia.

Navalny has accused agents of Russia's Federal Security Service of attempting to assassinate him with the poison.

A Moscow court in February found him guilty of violating the terms of his parole from an older embezzlement case that is widely considered to be politically motivated.

His suspended 3 1/2-year sentence was converted into jail time, though the court reduced that amount to 2 1/2 years for time already served in detention.

Navalny's imprisonment has caused a chorus of international criticism, with the United States and its allies demanding his unconditional release and vowing to continue to hold those responsible for his poisoning to account.

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-navalny-medical -treatment-tuberculosis/31189094.html

Copyright (c) 2021. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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