The Kremlin says it won’t respond to a plea from the wife of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny to free her husband amid reports his health has deteriorated sharply over the past month.
Talking to journalists in Moscow, on March 26, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Navalnaya, who the day before demanded her husband’s immediate release and called his incarceration Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “personal revenge,” should not have turned to the Kremlin, as it had no role in the matter.
“We will not react to such an appeal…. At the moment, in a situation when a citizen is a convict incarcerated in a penal colony, the address for such appeals is the FSIN,” Peskov said, referring to the Federal Penitentiary Service.
Navalny is currently in Correctional Colony No. 2, about 100 kilometers from Moscow. The prison is known as one of the toughest in Russia.
Navalny’s condition and his whereabouts became an issue on March 24 after his allies said they were concerned over his deteriorating health and his failure to attend a scheduled visit with his lawyers in prison.
They were able to see him on March 25, but said he was in an “extremely unfavorable” condition, suffering from severe back pain and issues with right leg that has made it “practically nonfunctional.”
Lawyer Vadim Kobzev said that after “finally” getting to see Navalny, it quickly became clear that he was not only not being treated properly, “but a deliberate strategy is under way to undermine his health.”
In a statement on Instagram, Navalnaya said that her husband, Putin’s most prominent critic, was “pushed to prison” by the president, who “is scared of political competition.”
Navalnaya also demanded the authorities allow independent doctors to treat her husband.
In a statement on Navalny’s website, his associates accused the prison of torturing him through sleep deprivation.
Peskov rejected that allegation, saying Navalny, like other prisoners, is woken up every hour as a way “of maintaining order and discipline in penitentiaries” and that stricter measures are often used in prisons abroad.
Such comments show “these people are the enemies of our own country,” Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) said on Twitter.
Navalny was detained at a Moscow airport in January immediately upon returning from Berlin, where he was recovering from what several Western laboratories determined was a poisoning attempt using a Novichok-type nerve agent that saw him fall seriously ill on a flight in Siberia in August 2020.
Navalny has said the assassination attempt was ordered by Putin — an allegation rejected by the Kremlin.
A Moscow court in February ruled that while in Germany, Navalny had violated the terms of parole from an older embezzlement case that is widely considered to be politically motivated.
His suspended 3 1/2-year sentence was converted into jail time, though the court reduced that amount to 2 1/2 years for time already served in detention.
Navalny’s incarceration set off a wave of nationwide protests and a crackdown against his supporters.
The European Union, the United States, and Canada have imposed a series of sanctions against Russia over the Navalny case.