Amnesty International said on Wednesday that the conditions in which Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny is being kept amount to torture and may slowly be killing him.
“Russia, the Russian authorities, may be placing him into a situation of a slow death and seeking to hide what is happening to him,” Amnesty International’s secretary general, Agnes Callamard, told Reuters.
According to the organization, Navalny is being subjected to sleep deprivation and lacks access to a doctor he can trust.
“Clearly, the Russian authorities are violating his rights. We have to do more,” Callamard added. “[They] have already attempted to kill him, they are now detaining him, and imposing prison conditions, that amount to torture.”
Callamard stated that Navalny's mistreatment comes as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic worsens inequalities and increases state-sponsored repression, Reuters notes. According to Callamard, some governments have used the health crisis against minorities as a way to restrict dissent and human rights.
“COVID has amplified oppression,” Callamard added.
On Tuesday, Navalny's lawyer, Olga Mikhailova, said that the opposition leader was “in rather bad condition" with a cough and a high fever. Navalny began a hunger strike last week in an attempt to receive proper medical care, reportedly saying he was experiencing back pain as well as a loss of sensation in his extremities.
“He has lost a lot of weight, plus he has a strong cough and a temperature of 38.1 [Celsius],” Mikhailova said. “This man is seriously ill. It’s a complete outrage that the IK-2 [prison] has driven him to this condition.”
Navalny was poisoned last year with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok. He received treatment at the Charité-Universitätsmedizin hospital in Germany. At the time of his discharge, the hospital said it was unclear what the long-term effects on his health would be.
Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service said last month that Navalny's health was “stable and satisfactory."