United Nations (UN) human rights experts Wednesday expressed concern over the deteriorating health conditions of jailed Putin critic and opposition leader Alexei Navalny calling for his immediate medical evacuation from Russia.
Navalny was convicted in February this year for his violating the terms of his parole from August 2020 to January 2021, a period when he was recuperating from a chemical nerve agent attack allegedly sanctioned by the Russian state.
The independent experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council have said that Navalny has “incarcerated under harsh conditions in a high security penal colony and denied access to adequate medical care.” They went on to say that he may be kept in conditions that “could amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Navalny was transferred to a hospital only early this week despite being on a hunger strike since early April to protest inadequate medical care and torture through sleep deprivation. Currently Navalny has been denied access to his chosen doctors while his lawyers report that his conditions “are only getting worse” and that he is at imminent risk of irreversible renal damage and cardiac arrest.
The UN experts reiterated that Navalny’s detention had no legal basis in light of recent rulings by the European Court of Human Rights and noted the Russian government’s accountability for his life and health:
Under international human rights law, when detaining a person, irrespective of the reason for the detention, the State bears full responsibility to care for his life and bodily integrity. Due to this heightened duty of care, the Government of the Russian Federation must take all necessary measures to protect Mr. Navalny’s physical and mental health and well-being.
Meanwhile, months long protests against Navalny’s detention continue to rage on in Russia. In several cities, the police have arrested more than 1,958 protestors as of Friday, April 23, 2021, with at least 842 being arrested in St. Petersburg alone.