Navalny allies call for massive protests in Russian cities
Allies of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Sunday called for massive protests to take place on Wednesday over reports that his health is quickly deteriorating.
The Associated Press reported that a top strategist for Navalny, Leonid Volkov, said the short notice was because “his life hangs in the balance….We don’t know how long he can hold on. But it is clear we do not have time.”
The protests would take place at the Manezh Square in Moscow, outside the Kremlin’s walls and at St. Petersburg’s Palace Square, the AP reports.
On Sunday, Russian physician Yaroslav Ashikhmin wrote that test results provided by Navalny’s family showed that he could “die at any moment” due to kidney failure brought on by his hunger strike.
“A patient with this level of potassium should be observed in intensive care, as fatal arrhythmia can develop at any moment. Death by a cardiac arrest. The publication is coordinated with the relatives of Alexey Navalny,” Ashikhmin wrote on Facebook. “Our patient could die at any moment.”
Navalny began his hunger strike three weeks ago to protest the prison authorities’ refusal to allow him to see a private doctor. Navalny has previously said that he is experiencing severe back pain and loss of sensation in his legs.
Officials have said Navalny was poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok last year and at the time of his discharge from a German hospital, experts could not say what the long-term effects the poisoning would have on his health. Upon returning to Russia from Germany, Navalny was arrested and sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.
During an interview on Sunday, U.S. National Security advisor Jake Sullivan said “there will be consequences” if Navalny dies while imprisoned.
“We have communicated to the Russian government that what happens to Mr. Navalny in their custody is their responsibility and they will be held accountable by the international community,” Sullivan said on CNN’s State of the Union. “In terms of the specific measures that we would undertake we are looking at a variety of different costs that we would impose. And I’m not going to telegraph that publicly at this point, but we have communicated that there will be consequences if Mr. Navalny dies.”