By Gurman Sidhu
RUSSIA – Alexei Navalny, a 44-year-old Russian opposition leader, has been serving time in a Russian prison outside of Moscow since late January. Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner who has been one of the loudest critics of President Vladimir Putin, wrote reports that expose the corruption of the Kremlin and motivated many Russian’s to protest. Navalny even attempted to run against President Putin in the 2018 Russian elections but was forbidden to do so due to his criminal record. Navalny says this criminal record was politically motivated by his opponent. Now he sits in a Russian prison as his health deteriorates.
In August of 2020, Navalny fell sick and was flown to Berlin due to the efforts of his supporters. In Berlin, he was told that he had been poisoned with a Soviet-Era nerve agent. Navalny reported that this crime was committed by a man in the Russian Federal Security Service. When Navalny recovered and returned home, he was arrested at the border on a 2014 probation order that expired in 2020.
For the past two weeks, Navalny has been on a hunger strike. His lawyer and family members are the only ones allowed to visit him at the detention center. His lawyer reported to the public that Alexei Navalny is seriously ill. His wife, Yulia Navalnaya, who visited Navalny on Tuesday, expressed that she went to the “best date of my life.” She described her meeting with her husband to be in a tiny room and separated by a glass wall.
Afterward, she told the public that she is extremely worried about his health. She said that he was barely able to speak without having to take breaks and lie down numerous times. She is calling for the Russian authorities to provide him with appropriate medical care. In response, the Kremlin said that he will not be receiving any special treatment.
Several more people were interviewed. Some of these people are from the Pokhara, a town approximately 60 miles east of Moscow. Several of them support Navalny and are asking for him to be treated. Through his lawyer, Navalny has conveyed to the public that his health has been worsening over time. In the prison, he expressed complaints about numbness in the leg and back pain. However, the prison referred to these complaints as lies and accused him of attempting to seek attention. Navalny is simply asking for a medic that he can trust.
Dr. Anastasia Vasilyeva, who is a Russian Alliance Doctor and close associate of Navalny, in an interview with a BBC Moscow correspondent, said, “I’m really very afraid of his health and his condition. I don’t want to let his health be worse. This is why I’m here now.” When asked if she trusts the prison doctor, she emphasized, “No, no!”
Alexei Navalny, the biggest Russian opposition of President Vladimir Putin, is on a hunger strike in a Russian prison. He is sick and his health is deteriorating by the day. Many suspect that the Russian authorities are placing Navalny into a situation where he could be facing a slow death. His supporters in Russia and from around the globe are worried. They are asking for the Russian authorities to provide him with medical help. Many are now looking to the Biden Administration in hopes they will respond to the worsening situation with Navalny in Russia.
Gurman Sidhu is a first-year Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior major at UC Davis from Union City, California.