Russia opposition leader Navalny's health worsens in prison

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FILE - In this Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021 file photo, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny stands in a cage in the Babuskinsky District Court in Moscow, Russia. Alexei Navalny's lawyer Mikhailova said Navalny was taken to a hospital outside prison on Wednesday, March 24 for magnetic resonance tomography but wasn't given the results. She said Navalny has received pills and ointment for his pain, but prison authorities refused to accept medicines that lawyers brought to him. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

MOSCOW – Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has accused prison authorities of failing to provide proper treatment for his back pain and leg problems, saying in a letter posted Thursday that his physical condition has worsened in prison and he now has trouble walking.

Navalny blamed his health problems on prison officials failing to provide the right medicines and refusing to allow his doctor to visit him behind bars. He also complained in a second letter that the hourly checks a guard makes on him at night amounted to sleep deprivation torture.

Copies of his letters to penitentiary officials and Russia’s top prosecutor were posted on Navalny's website.

The 44-year-old Navalny, who is President Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken opponent, was arrested on Jan. 17 upon his return from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. Russian authorities have rejected the accusation.

Last month, Navalny was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for violating the terms of his probation while convalescing in Germany. The sentence stems from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that Navalny has rejected as fabricated — and which the European Сourt of Human Rights has ruled to be unlawful.

“My condition has worsened. I feel acute pain in my right leg, and I feel numbness in its lower part,” Navalny wrote in the letter. “I have trouble walking.”

He said that the authorities have given him standard pills and ointment for his pain, but refused to accept medicines earlier prescribed by his doctor.

He accused prison officials of undermining his health with a “deliberate denial of due medical assistance."