Moscow (Reuters)-The Izvesian newspaper reported on Monday that the imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny had been transferred to a ward with symptoms of respiratory illness and was tested for coronavirus. Earlier he said he suffered from high temperature and cough.
Navalny is a well-known critic of President Vladimir Putin, who announced a hunger strike last week and accused prison staff of denying that he received proper treatment for acute back and leg pain.
The 44-year-old politician who asked for his release in the West said that three people in his ward had been hospitalized for tuberculosis, and jokingly said that the infectious disease might free him from other diseases.
“If I have tuberculosis, then maybe it will eliminate my back pain and numbness in my legs. That would be great,” he wrote on Instagram.
He said that the prison authorities measured his temperature to be 38.1 degrees Celsius (100.6 degrees Fahrenheit). He also said that he had a bad cough.
A few hours later, the pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia quoted a statement from the Federal Prison Service stating that he had been transferred to the ward and underwent various checks including coronavirus.
The Izvestia report did not say where the ward was, but one of his lawyers said it appeared to be in the IK-2 corrective criminal colony 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of Moscow where he was held. .
Navalny accused the prison authorities there of depriving him of sleep by waking him every hour during the night and denying him proper medical care.
The prison authorities denied sleep deprivation and had said that Navalny was in a satisfactory condition and had provided him with all necessary treatment. The prison where he was detained did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.
His allies said late last week that unless he was examined by a doctor of his choice and given them appropriate medication, they would hold a rolling protest outside the prison on Tuesday.
Navalny’s lawyers regularly detain him and help him continue to post on social media.
Amnesty International Secretary-General Agnes Callamard said she has appealed to Putin about Navani’s “arbitrary arrest and deterioration of health”.
“Russia is likely to slow him to death. She must write on Twitter: “He must immediately gain access to a doctor he trusts and must be released. “
The official media and some members of the prison surveillance team accused Navani of fabricating his medical problems in order to keep the public eye. Navani and his allies deny this.
Additional reporting by Vladmir Soldatkin and Polina Nikolskaya; Editing by Timothy Heritage