Brussels (Brussels Morning) The EU has urged Russia to grant access to proper medical care for opposition politician Alexei Navalny whose health, his allies now warn, is in critical condition, Reuters reports.
Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, told a virtual conference of the bloc’s foreign ministers on Sunday that the EU holds the Russian authorities “responsible for the health situation of Mr Navalny.”
The ministers released a joint statement on Sunday, warning that Navalny’s life is in danger.
Navalny says medical treatment denied
At the end of March, when he began a hunger strike, Navalny said prison authorities were refusing to treat him for acute leg and back pain.
He returned to Russia at the start of the year from Germany, where he had been recovering from what several independent laboratories and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons concluded was nerve agent poisoning, which Moscow denies.
Navalny was taken to prison in February for an alleged parole violation he says was politically motivated.
Manfred Weber, head of the European People’s Party, called on Moscow to “act now, or the blood of Mr Navalny will forever be on your hands”. Gabrielius Landsbergis, Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, called on the the bloc to prepare a special medical team.
Allies want EU to discuss health issue
Navalny allies Vladimir Ashurkov and Leonid Volkov have written to EU ministers urging them to discuss Navalny’s health conditions at their meeting. Borrell acknowledges receipt of the letter.
Their letter echoed the concerns raised by Navalny’s wife Yulia, who warned last week after visiting him in prison that he lost more weight and was having difficulty speaking. Citing a copy of test results that show Navalny has spinal problems, the letter stressed that “Alexei’s health is steadily deteriorating.”Prison staff claimed Navalny was offered proper treatment but had refused it.