Navalny complains of torture in Russian prison, the lawyer says his health is deteriorating

Imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on Thursday accused Russian authorities of torture by depriving him of sleep in prison, as his lawyer said his health had deteriorated with back pain and leg problems.

Navalny, who is considered a flight threat by Russian authorities, said he was awakened eight times a night by guards who inform a recording camera that he is still in his cell.

“I’m basically being tortured by lack of sleep,” he said in a formal complaint released by his lawyers.

Navalny’s lawyer Olga Mikhailova said that Navalny’s condition has deteriorated, especially in recent days.

“He gets severe pain in his back and right leg. He feels numbness in his right lower leg, Mikhailova said outside prison in comments from independent Dozhd TV. “His right leg is in terrible shape.”

Navalny, 44, who is President Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken opponent, was arrested on January 17 when he returned from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a drug poisoning he blames on the Kremlin. Russian authorities have denied the allegations.

Mikhailova said Navalny was taken to a hospital outside the prison on Wednesday for magnetic resonance imaging but did not get the results. She said Navalny received pills and ointment for his pain, but prison authorities refused to accept drugs brought to him by lawyers.

Mikhailova said Navalny had experienced back pain for four weeks, but prison officials would not allow visits by his doctors either. The lawyer argued that the authorities should transfer Navalny to Moscow so that he could receive better treatment.

Earlier this month, Navalny was transferred to a prison colony in Pokrov in the Vladimir region, 85 kilometers east of Moscow. The facility stands out among Russian prisons for its particularly strict regime that includes routines such as paying attention for hours.

Russia’s Federal Bureau of Investigation said earlier Thursday that Navalny had undergone medical checks the previous day, describing his condition as “stable and satisfactory.”

Last month, Navalny was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for violating the terms of his probationary period during his reinstatement in Germany. The verdict stems from a 2014 conviction that Navalny has rejected as fabricated – and which the European Court of Human Rights has ruled illegal.

Russian officials have rejected demands from the United States and the European Union to free Navalny and stop the attacks on his supporters.

( Jowharwith AP and AFP)