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Alexei Navalny transferred to hospital after almost three weeks on hunger strike
19 April 2021, 10:40 | Updated: 19 April 2021, 11:14
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been transferred to hospital as he enters his third week of a hunger strike, the Russian state penitentiary service has said.
The announcement comes two days after Mr Navalny's doctor said his health was deteriorating rapidly and the 44-year-old Kremlin critic could be on the verge of death.
Vladimir Putin's most visible and persistent critic started a hunger strike on 31 March to protest against prison authorities' refusal to allow him to be seen by a private doctor.
He says he is suffering from severe back pain and loss of feeling in his legs, and that the medical care in prison is inadequate.
The state prison service, FSIN, said in a statement that Mr Navalny would be transferred on Monday to a hospital for convicts located in another penal colony in Vladimir, a city 180 kilometres (110 miles) east of Moscow.
According to the statement, Mr Navalny's condition is deemed "satisfactory" and he has agreed to take vitamin supplements.
Mr Navalny's doctor Yaroslav Ashikhmin said on Saturday that test results he received from Mr Navalny's family show him with sharply elevated levels of potassium, which can bring on cardiac arrest, and heightened creatinine levels that indicate impaired kidneys.
Associates of the politician have called for huge protests in Moscow and St Petersburg on Wednesday, echoing claims by his doctors that his health is deteriorating severely.
Strategist Leonid Volkov said the demonstrations were called with three days' notice 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.
There was no immediate comment from police or government officials about the call for protests, but the response is likely to be harsh.
Police arrested more than 10,000 people during nationwide protests in January demanding Mr Navalny's freedom.
More to follow...