The Russian state penitentiary service on Monday said it had decided to move opposition leader Alexei Navalny, currently in the third week of a hunger strike, to a hospital for prisoners.
The statement said Navalny’s condition was considered “satisfactory” and he had agreed to take vitamin supplements.
Navalny’s own doctors has previously warned that the dissident, who is currently on hunger strike, could die “any minute.”
EU foreign ministers were set to meet virtually on Monday as Brussels urged Russia to grant Navalny “immediate access to medical professionals he trusts.
What is the EU saying?
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Monday said the bloc would hold Russia “responsible” for Navalny’s health.
“We make the Russian authorities responsible for the health situation of Mr. Navalny,” Borrell said ahead of a virtual meeting by EU foreign ministers, which he said would also discuss the “very dangerous” situation around a Russian troop buildup at on the border with Ukraine.
Borrell had on Sunday said the bloc was “deeply concerned” that Navalny’s health “continues to deteriorate even further.”
Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged Moscow to give Navalny adequate medical care.
“We urgently demand that Alexei Navalny receive adequate medical treatment and access to doctors he trusts. His right to medical care must be granted without delay,” Maas told German mass-circulation daily Bild.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned that Russia must be held “responsible” for Navalny’s health and that the expansion of sanctions could follow.
Why is Navalny in prison?
Navalny was arrested on January 17 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport where he had arrived on a flight from Germany.
He had spent five months away from Russia while recovering from a poisoning with the nerve-agent Novichok that he blames on the Kremlin.
It was alleged that the time he spent in Germany violated a suspended sentence he was given for a money-laundering and fraud conviction.
The 44-year-old was ordered to serve three-and-a-half years in prison for the supposed violation.
Navalny’s arrest and detention sparked protests throughout the country on two weekends in January, in which about 10,000 people were reported to have been arrested.
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