Prison official – Jailed Kremlin critic Navalny ‘more or less’ showed signs of recovery after hunger strike
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has ‘more or less’ recovered his health following a hunger strike and has the possibility of communicating with his family, the head of Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service said on Thursday.
Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent domestic critic, is serving a 2-1/2 year jail sentence for parole violations he says were trumped up.
“I can say he has more or less recovered his health,” the TASS news agency quoted Alexander Kalashnikov, head of the Federal Penitentiary Service, as saying. “He already weighs 82 kg (181 lbs). He is eating normally and has the possibility of communicating with his family.”
The 44-year-old opposition politician had declared a hunger strike in late March to demand better medical care in prison after experiencing acute leg and back pain.
His deteriorating health prompted allies to call on his supporters to take to the streets to demand he receive adequate care, but the turnout at those rallies was more modest than expected.
Navalny, who last year survived what German doctors said was a nerve agent poisoning, halted his hunger strike last month after receiving better medical care.
Ivan Zhdanov, one of Navalny’s closest allies, said on Thursday that Navalny’s health condition was generally satisfactory.
Russia in recent weeks has moved to outlaw Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation and regional campaign groups as extremist.
The case has prompted Navalny’s allies to suspend much of their activity.
If Navalny’s foundation and campaign groups are formally declared extremist, the authorities will gain the power to jail activists and freeze their bank accounts. The next court hearing in the case is set for June 9.
Navalny’s allies say the extremism allegations are an attempt to hinder their political opposition to the ruling United Russia party ahead of a parliamentary election in September.