Russian police detained nine people outside a jail holding Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on Tuesday when a small group of his supporters arrived at the facility and authorities rejected a doctor trying to see him.
Navalny, 44, an opponent of President Vladimir Putin, announced a hunger strike last week in protest of what he said was the prison authorities’ refusal to treat him properly for acute back and leg pain.
Some allies had said they would protest from Tuesday in the prison in the city of Pokrov, about 100 km east of Moscow, unless he met a doctor of his choice and received the right medicine.
The prison has said that his health is satisfactory and that he has received all the necessary medical care.
Navalny’s wife, Yulia, said she had received a letter from prison authorities dated March 17, stating that he did not have his passport with him and that this could prevent him from being hospitalized if he was ill.
Anastasiya Vasilyeva, a Navalny ally who leads a doctors’ union, was rejected in prison even though she said she had an appointment with a senior prisoner and wanted to see Navalny and check on his health.
“All our peaceful actions are not working,” she said.
Police later arrested her along with at least six other people, including several supporters and two CNN journalists, Reuters correspondents said.
Police said nine people had been taken into custody for violating public order. Prison security had tightened earlier on Tuesday.
Navalny was jailed for about 2-1 / 2 years in February after a court ruled he had violated the terms of fraud in a case he said was politically motivated.
“I think he is innocent. I am completely on his side,” said Antonina Romanova, a Navalny out-of-prison supporter. “It happens that people who can arrange things in the country for some reason end up in jail.”
Navalny said on Monday that he had a high temperature and a bad cough and that three prisoners in his ward had been hospitalized with tuberculosis.
The Kremlin newspaper Izvestia later quoted the state prison service as saying that Navalny had been transferred to a bay and tested for COVID-19.
The Kremlin declined to comment on Navalny’s health but said he would receive medical treatment like any other prisoner if he was ill.