Putin critic Navalny says Russian prison guards are trying to break his hunger strike by frying chicken in front of him

alexei navalny prison
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny attending a hearing in Moscow, Russia February 20, 2021

  • Alexei Navalny in an Instagram post said prison guards are tempting him by cooking food.
  • He is staging a hunger strike to protest what he says is a lack of medical treatment in prison.
  • His lawyer says his health is deteriorating and he is losing sensation in his hands and legs.
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Alexei Navalny, the imprisoned critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, says that prison guards are trying to tempt him out of a hunger strike by frying chicken in front of him.

Navalny described the situation in an Instagram post from the IK-2 prison in Pokrov, near Moscow, where he is serving a three-and-a-half year sentence.

He has been on hunger strike since last week in protest at what he said is a lack of medical care. In the post, he said that guards also slip candy into his pockets as well as using the smell of cooking chicken.

A post shared by Алексей Навальный (@navalny)

Navalny, the most high-profile challenger to the Russian president, was sentenced in February for having violated earlier parole terms. Navalny argued that he had no ability to meet the parol conditions because he had been poisoned with a nerve agent.

The poisoning, which took place in August and left him in a coma at the time of the hearings, has been linked to Russia’s FSB security agency, although Russian authorities have denied being involved.

Navalny also says the original charges were politically motivated and has accused Putin of trying to kill him.

Last week, he went on hunger strike to protest a lack of medical treatment in prison. According to his lawyers he has been diagnosed with two spinal hernias and his health has been deteriorating badly, the BBC reported.

He has pain walking and is losing sensation in his hands and legs, his lawyer Vadim Kobzev said on Twitter Wednesday. His weight is also dropping by 1lb a day, Kobzev wrote.

In the Instagram post, Navalny wrote: “I knew, of course, that the authorities would first of all want to discredit the hunger strike and make fun of it. Only the primitiveness of the approach is surprising.”

He said he makes sure to only go in the kitchen for water while cameras are recording, saying that state TV has accused his strike of being a sham.

He also described the guards teasing him as they cook chicken in front of him, encouraging him to eat with them and saying things like: “Come on, Lex …. mmmm, what a smell. Give up, you will not achieve anything.”

He said that he first thought they were following orders, then realized: “This is just what they piously believe in.”

Navalny also said that he was being denied a proper medical diagnosis, and was not allowed to know the results of an MRI scan.

Amnesty International’s secretary general Agnes Callamard said that the Russian authorities “may be placing him into a situation of a slow death and seeking to hide what is happening to him,” Reuters reported Wednesday. His conditions amount to torture, she said.

Navalny’s lawyers say there are no doctors, just a single paramedic, at his prison, the BBC reported.

Russia’s prison service denied this, the BBC reported, arguing that Navalny had “all the necessary medical assistance in accordance with his medical indications.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that President Joe Biden’s administration was “disturbed” by reports of Navalny’s deteriorating health, and reiterated its stance that the charges against him were “trumped-up.”

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Alexei Navalny’s doctor was detained outside his prison after asking to check on him, as reports say the Russian critic is seriously ill

Navalny doctor
Russian police officers detain Anastasiya Vasilyeva, a doctor and ally of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, near the IK-2 corrective penal colony in Pokrov, Russia, on April 6, 2021.

  • Russian police detained the doctor of opposition leader Alexei Navalny at a protest over his health.
  • She was turned away from the prison after saying she wanted to check on him, Reuters reported.
  • Navalny was transferred to a medical unit because of possible respiratory problems and fever, Reuters reported.
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Russian police detained Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny’s doctor after she asked to check on his health.

Reuters reported that Anastasiya Vasilyeva, who is an ally of Navalny and leads a doctors’ union, was detained after she was turned away from the prison, where she said she had an appointment with a senior prison official and that she wanted to see Navalny to check on his health.

Al Jazeera described Vasilyeva as Navalny’s personal doctor.

At least six other people were detained, including two CNN correspondents, at the protest, Reuters reported.

It is not clear why they were detained.

Navalny was transferred to a penal-colony medical unit earlier this week because of possible respiratory problems and fever, Reuters reported on Monday. His lawyer has said he was “seriously ill.”

Navalny recently announced a hunger strike to process a lack of medical care in the facility.

He was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison in early February for violating a 2014 suspended sentence. He missed probation meetings because he was being treated for poison in Berlin, his lawyers said.

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Putin critic Navalny reportedly transferred to medical facility after falling ill in prison

alexei navalny
Alexei Navalny in a video published by his team on January 18.

  • Alexei Navalny has reportedly been transferred to a medical unit for respiratory problems.
  • The imprisoned Putin critic recently went on a hunger strike over claims of improper medical care.
  • Amnesty International said it was possible Russia was subjecting Navalny “to a slow death.”
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The Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been transferred to a penal-colony medical unit because of possible respiratory problems and fever, Reuters reported on Monday, citing the Russian newspaper Izvestia.

Navalny received a COVID-19 test in the medical facility, according to the report, but the result remains unclear.

In his most recent Instagram post, Navalny said three people in his prison ward were in the hospital being treated for tuberculosis. Navalny added that he had a severe cough and high temperature.

“If I have tuberculosis, then maybe it’ll chase out the pain in my back and numbness in my legs. That’d be nice,” Navalny said.

The anti-corruption campaigner and top critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin recently announced he was going on a hunger strike over claims he was being denied proper medical care in prison. Navalny has complained of acute back and leg pain while in prison and said prison guards repeatedly wake him up at night as a form of sleep deprivation. The Russian opposition figure’s legal team has alleged a “deliberate strategy is underway to undermine his health.”

“There is a real prospect that Russia is subjecting him to a slow death,” Agnès Callamard, the secretary general of Amnesty International, told Voice of America. “He must be granted immediate access to a medical doctor he trusts and he must be freed.”

Navalny was poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok in August and subsequently taken to Germany for medical treatment. Upon his return to Moscow in January, the Kremlin critic was promptly arrested. His detention sparked mass protests in Russia as world leaders called for Navalny’s immediate release.

He was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison on charges of violating parole for a 2014 fraud conviction, including while he was in Germany for five months receiving medical treatment. The sentencing was broadly viewed as political retribution and condemned by leaders worldwide. Europe’s top human-rights court previously characterized the 2014 conviction as politically motivated.

Putin has been accused of ordering Navalny’s poisoning, an allegation the Russian president has vehemently denied.

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Biden hits Russia with sanctions over Navalny’s poisoning in another break from Trump

alexei navalny
Alexei Navalny appears in a video published by his team on January 18, 2021.

  • The Biden administration imposed sanctions on Russia over Navalny’s poisoning.
  • The sanctions impact seven senior Russian officials.
  • US intelligence concluded with “high confidence” Navalny was poisoned by Russia, officials said.
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The Biden administration unveiled sanctions Tuesday against seven senior Russian officials over the poisoning and detention of Alexei Navalny, the most prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

The sanctions, which were coordinated with similar actions from the European Union against Russian officials, mark the Biden administration’s first such action against Moscow. The move also represents a departure from former President Donald Trump, whose administration barely acknowledged the poisoning of Navalny and did not impose any penalties over it. 

Senior administration officials told reporters on Tuesday that the US intelligence community has concluded with “high confidence” that officers of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) poisoned Navalny with the nerve agent Novichok. 

This article is breaking and will continue to be updated.


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The wife of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is arrested as mass protests defy Putin and call for his release from prison

Alexei Navalny Protest
People clash with police during a protest against the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in St. Petersburg, Russia on January 23, 2021.

  • Russian opposition leader Alex Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, has been arrested.
  • She has become one of more than 1,600 people arrested during protests calling for his release from prison.
  • Navalny’s arrest is for violating a 2014 fraud sentence but many believe it is politically motivated.
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Russian opposition leader Alex Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, has become one of more than 1,600 arrested during protests for his release from prison. 

She was detained in Moscow during one of 60 protests planned across different Russian cities on Saturday, according to the OVD-info monitoring group, with temperatures plummeting to below -50°F in some areas. 

Navalny was arrested on Sunday after flying back to Russia from Germany. He had spent the last five months recovering from an almost fatal nerve agent attack in August, the BBC reported.

The opposition leader is one of Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken critics and blamed the attack on the Kremlin, which has denied any involvement in the incident.

Yulia Navalnaya posted an image of herself on Instagram, captioned: “Sorry for the poor quality. Very bad light in the paddy wagon.” 

A post shared by @yulia_navalnaya

While the Russian authorities said 4,000 people took part in the demonstrations, according to The Washington Post, an estimated 40,000 people actually took part, Reuters reported, with some also held in the former Soviet states of Lithuania and Estonia

Read More:I’m an English tutor in Russia who makes up to $10,000 a month. High-end clients often send their personal chauffeurs to pick me up, and my favorite perk is the food. Here’s what a typical day in my job is like.

Many were organized on TikTok using the hashtags #freenavalny and #23Jan.  Russia’s media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, told the company to remove ones encouraging minors to get involved, Deutsche Welle noted.

Navalny’s arrest comes days after his Anti-Corruption Foundation, or FBK, released a report and YouTube video accusing Putin of secretly building a secret $1b palace near Gelendzhik on the Black Sea funded by bribes, which the Kremlin has also denied. 

Other prominent figures arrested include politician Lev Shlosberg, who has a seat in Russia’s northwestern Pskov Regional Assembly, tweeted the news by saying: “Detained by the police.”

Lyubov Sobol, a lawyer for FBK and activist, was also detained at the protest, as was Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh, according to Deutsche Welle.

The US, France, and Canada have all called for Alex Navalny’s release while the EU imposed sanctions on Russia over his arrest.

He was imprisoned for 30 days for violating the terms of a 2014 suspended sentence he received for fraud charges, which the 44-year-old maintains are politically motivated, Deutsche Welle added.

Navalny is set to appear in court early next month, where he will be told if he will serve more than three and a half years in jail or not, the London Evening Standard noted.

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Putin claims Navalny is in cahoots with US intelligence and denies poisoning him, stating Russia would’ve ‘finished the job’

Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks via video call during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. This year, Putin attended his annual news conference online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday denied poisoning Alexei Navalny, stating that Russia would’ve “finished the job.”
  • Navalny nearly died after being poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok in late August. He fell ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow.
  • Putin also suggested that Navalny, his most prominent critic, is connected to “American intelligence.” 
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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday suggested that his most prominent critic, Alexei Navalny, has ties to US intelligence. Putin also denied poisoning Navalny, stating that Russia would’ve “finished the job.” 

Navalny, an opposition leader who has been harassed by the Russian government for years, in late August was poisoned with the potentially-fatal nerve agent Novichok and fell ill while en route from Siberia to Moscow. He was eventually transferred to Berlin for treatment, and he remains in Germany. The Kremlin has maintained that it had no involvement, though Novichok has been used to poison other Russian dissidents. 

“This patient in the Berlin clinic has the support of American intelligence agencies,” Putin said during his annual news conference, according to a translation from the New York Times. “The intelligence agencies of course need to keep an eye on him. But that does not mean that he needs to be poisoned – who needs him? If they had really wanted to, they would have probably finished the job.”

Putin was responding to questions on a Bellingcat investigation published this week that showed an elite Russian unit that specializes in nerve agents had been tracking Navalny for years. 

The Russian leader claimed US intelligence was behind the investigation.

“This is not an investigation, this is the legalization of material from American intelligence agencies,” Putin said. “What, do we not know that they track location? Our intelligence agencies understand that well.” 

In a tweet earlier this week, Navalny directly accused Putin of poisoning him. 

“A special team of FSB killers spied on me for more than 3 years and tried several murder attempts. An operation of such scale couldn’t be authorized by anyone other than Putin. I accuse him of national terrorism,” the anti-corruption campaigner said. 

Responding to the Russian president’s news conference, Navalny in a separate tweet on Thursday said, “Putin admitted everything,” adding, “it is impossible to deny our reinforced concrete evidence.”

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Identity of suspected Russian assassin involved in poisoning a Putin critic may have been identified in new report

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny and his family members pose for a picture at Charite hospital in Berlin, Germany, in this undated image obtained from social media September 15, 2020.

  • Bellingcat, CNN, Der Spiegel, and The Insider released a comprehensive investigation into the August assassination attempt on prominent critic Alexei Navalny.
  • In the course of the investigation, analysts tracked call metadata, looked at flight records, and scanned offline Russian databases to identify 15 individuals who they allege work within a hidden sub-unit of the Federal Security Service Criminalistics Institute. 
  • As part of the investigation, CNN international correspondent Clarissa Ward traveled to Russia and knocked on the door of Oleg Tayakin, who according to the report is a senior officer in the FSB’s secret chemical weapons unit.
  • In a video of the encounter, Tayakin can be seen locking his door and declining to answer questions. Ward, for her part, has received praise online for her adversarial, investigative journalism chops.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

On Monday, CNN and a host of other outlets dropped a bombshell investigation into the suspected poisoning and attempted assassination of prominent Putin critic Alexei Navalny

In partnership with investigative outfit Bellingcat, Der Spiegel, and The Insider, the news organizations located and tracked down a web of alleged chemical weapon experts in Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), who according to the report were responsible for poisoning Navalny. 

In the course of the investigation, analysts tracked call metadata, looked at flight records, and scanned offline Russian databases to identify 15 individuals who they allege in their reporting work within a hidden sub-unit of the FSB Criminalistics Institute. 

The investigative journalists also identified eight officers who they say were involved in tailing Navalny ever since his bid to run for president in 2017, reporting that FSB officers followed him on at least 30 flights in the last three years and knew his every move.

On August 20, Navalny collapsed while on a flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk, en route to Moscow. The plane made an emergency landing in Omsk, where Navalny was hospitalized. Two days later, Navalny was transferred to the Charite hospital in Berlin, and doctors and chemical weapons experts ruled that he was poisoned with a cholinesterase inhibitor, a nerve agent within the Novichok family. 

The investigation also determined that Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, was also targeted in a poisoning weeks earlier, which she recovered from. 

For CNN’s investigation, Ward traveled to Russia to investigate the hidden FSB unit and interview Alexei Navalny. Ultimately, in what fellow journalists are praising as an extremely brave segment, Ward and her CNN team travel to the home of Oleg Tayakin, who the report alleges is a senior officer who was involved in the assassination attempt.

“We’re here now at the home of one of the FSB team, and we are going to see if he has anything to say to us,” Ward says, entering his apartment complex and heading to his apartment door.

Tayakin, noticing the cameras, immediately starts closing his door, as Ward asks in Russian if she can ask a few questions. Ward switches to English and repeats her request for comment before switching between Russian and English, eventually asking, “Was it your team who poisoned Navalny?”


Tayakin quickly closes and locks his door. After a brief silence and once more request for comment, Ward said, “he doesn’t seem to want to talk to us.”

In light of the investigation and Tayakin’s high profile association with the Kremlin, many lauded Ward’s bravery for physically traveling to Tayakin’s apartment and bringing up the investigation to his face. In the course of the segment, Ward also reports from directly outside a secret FSB chemical weapons research complex, the SC Signal Institute, and retraces Navalny’s steps in the hotel where he was likely poisoned.

In a CNN interview, Ward also shares the details of the report with Navalny, who is shocked. He says it is “terrifying” and tells Ward, “These people, in the Kremlin, they are ready to kill.”

Read the Bellingcat report here »

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