Hunger striking Navalny ‘losing feeling in hands after suffering two spinal hernias’

Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is beginning to lose feeling in his hands, his lawyer has said.

The 44-year-old, who has been on hunger strike since last week, has been diagnosed with two spinal hernias, Vadim Kobzev added.

Mr Kobzev, who visited the politician on Wednesday, tweeted: “Alexei is walking himself. He feels pain while walking. It is very concerning that the illness is clearly progressing in terms of losing sensation in his legs, palms and wrists.”

IK-2 penal colony where Alexei Navalny is being held
IK-2 penal colony where Alexei Navalny is being held

Mr Navalny began his hunger strike in protest at what he said was the refusal of prison authorities to treat him properly for acute back and leg pain.

He is losing a kilogram (2.2lbs) every day as his strike continues, Mr Kobzev said.

In a post on Instagram, Mr Navalny said prison authorities were trying to undermine him by roasting chicken nearby.

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He has been moved to a sick ward at the penal colony where he is being held after complaining of a high temperature earlier in the week, and claims three of his cell mates have been hospitalised for tuberculosis.

Mr Kobzev said his temperature had been as high as 39C on Monday, but had fallen to 37C on Wednesday.

The Kremlin has said he will be given the same treatment as any other inmate who is ill.

Anastasia Vasilyeva speaks to a group of journalists
Navalny associate Anastasia Vasilyeva outside the prison on Tuesday

Mr Navalny was arrested in January after returning to Moscow from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning he blames on Russian authorities.

He was jailed for two-and-a-half years in February for violating the terms of his probation relating to a conviction for embezzlement in 2014 – something he describes as fabricated.

Earlier this week, a close of associate of his, Anastasia Vasilyeva, went to the prison in Pokrov to try to talk to the governor.

After waiting for a few hours, Ms Vasilyeva, head of the Alliance of Doctors, was arrested.

“I’ll come back every day until they provide either me or a medical specialist access to Alexei,” she told journalists.