Doctor Says Russia Keeping Her from Examining Political Prisoner Alexei Navalny

Alliance of Doctors union's leader Anastasia Vasilyeva stands next to the gate of the IK-3 penal colony where jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was reportedly transferred in the city of Vladimir on April 20, 2021. - Russia's penitentiary service said on April 19, 2021, it was transferring ailing Kremlin critic …
DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images

Russian dissident Alexei Navalny’s personal doctor, Anastasia Vasilyeva, on Tuesday claimed authorities did not allow her and a group of physicians to examine him amid concerns of his rapidly deteriorating health.

The Russian government has asserted the European Court of Human Right’s (ECHR) ban on releasing Navalny’s personal health documents is part of a large coverup campaign orchestrated to benefit Western intelligence operatives.

Vasilyeva stated on Twitter that she and her associates were not permitted entry to an unnamed prison hospital after previously arranging an appointment to examine Navalny.

“When we called with a request to examine the patient, we were told to come with passports at 8 in the morning. We have not been allowed in,” she wrote.

Navalny has been in custody since January when he returned to Russia after recovering in Germany from an alleged poisoning attempt he blames on Russian leader Vladimir Putin. German doctors announced in September 2020 they had “unequivocal proof” Navalny had suffered from Novichok poisoning. Novichok is a nerve agent notorious for its use in Russian political assassinations. There are no known instances of a non-Russian entity using the substance in an assassination. The Kremlin has adamantly denied any such operation. A Russian court sentenced Navalny in February for violating his probation pertaining to an earlier embezzlement conviction by being flown, reportedly in a near-death state, to Germany for treatment.

In early April, the imprisoned dissident announced a hunger strike, alleging the facility was denying him appropriate health care and asserting at the time he was losing the use of his right leg and doctors would only give him ibuprofen for the issue. The imprisoned Russian dissident has used his Instagram account to update on his condition.

“If I place my weight on my right leg, I fall right down. That’s a little disturbing. I’ve got used to my right leg lately, and I’d hate to lose it,” he said while announcing his hunger strike.

Navalny was transferred to a prison hospital on Monday, prison officials announced, though they insisted his condition was not serious. The announcement prompted outrage from Navalny’s physicians who again demanded access to their patient. Yaroslav Ashikhmin, one of Navalny’s doctors, warned, “Our patient [Navalny] could die at any moment.” Vasilyeva described Navalny’s treatment as “cruel and monstrous.”

On April 19, the ECHR barred public access to Navalny’s health records which the Russian government has since denounced, asserting the Western powers are using the pretext of human rights to obscure the activities of their intelligence communities. The court deemed the dissident’s health documents confidential in nature and therefore the public had no right to them, Tass noted.

“This human rights structure is engaged in making these inhumane decisions, therefore, taking the heat off members belonging to the relevant agencies of Western countries who can do whatever they like because they will later be shielded by these decisions allegedly lying in the domain of human rights,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Tuesday, according to state media outlet Tass.

Zakharova did not specify any malevolent actions by foreign entities which Navalny’s health records would prove occurred, though she insinuated the finding of Novichok in Navalny’s system may have been fabricated.

“Any attempts to request information from [our] Western colleagues about what was truly found in his tests and what they are referring to are being blocked,” she further asserted.

President Joe Biden had a phone call with Putin on April 14, which the Kremlin described as extensive and “businesslike.” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated to reporters afterward that the two heads of state did not discuss Navalny or anything pertaining to his imprisonment or allegedly failing health. Biden expressed “concern” about Navalny while on a golf course on Sunday.

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