Forced feeding threatens Alexei Navalny, the opposition leader outside the infirmary

Forced feeding threatens Alexei Navalny, the opposition leader outside the infirmary
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny at a hearing in Moscow, February.AFP photo

Navalny, 44, is protesting with his hunger strike, at the refusal of the leadership of the criminal camp in Pokrov, 100 kilometers from Moscow, to accept a doctor. The opposition leader entered the camp clinic last week due to respiratory complaints.

It is feared that he had tuberculosis, a common condition in Russian prisons. But according to his supporters, he has since returned to the barracks, which he shares with dozens of other prisoners.

Fried chicken

Navalny is said to have lost 15 kg so far. In order to harass and test him, some of his fellow inmates were allowed, according to Navalny, to occasionally roast chicken in the barracks.

Apparently, authorities are now considering a tougher approach – forced feeding – to prevent Navalny from giving up. Human rights groups have already expressed concern about his poor health. They wonder if he will survive 2.5 years in a camp imposed on him earlier this year.

Pokrov’s IK-2 Punitive Settlement is known as one of the most stringent in Russia. Navalny’s health is further undermined by waking him every night every hour, ostensibly to make sure he didn’t run away.

Double hernia

Navalny also complained of back pain and numbness in his legs. An MRI scan last week showed that he had a double hernia, but that, too, was not a reason for him to be examined by a doctor of his choice.

Last week, police arrested a group of Navalny’s supporters who protested against his treatment outside the penal gates of the colony. Navalny’s doctor, Anastasia Vasiljeva, president of the Doctors Syndicate of Opposition, was arrested. A number of them were sentenced to one week in prison for participating in a demonstration that was not allowed to do so.

The foreign committee in the Bundestag, the German parliament, concluded last weekend that the treatment Navalny was receiving was in direct contradiction to the European Convention against Torture. According to the commission, his treatment amounted to “intentional torture.”

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