Navalny’s allies raise alarm over his health after lawyers denied prison access

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MOSCOW (Reuters) – Allies of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said on Wednesday they were concerned by a deterioration in his health and his lawyers said they had not been allowed to visit him in the prison camp holding him.

FILE PHOTO: Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny takes part in a rally in Moscow, Russia, February 29, 2020. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

Navalny, 44, was jailed last month for two and a half years on charges he called fabricated. He was arrested as he returned to Russia from Germany in January where he had been recovering from what doctors said was a nerve agent poisoning.

Navalny began experiencing serious back pain last week, felt a numbness in his leg and was unable to stand on it, according to close ally Leonid Volkov, who said that Navalny had only been given two pills of Ibuprofen in response.

Volkov said that Navalny’s lawyers Olga Mikhailova and Vadim Kobzev had tried to visit him for a meeting scheduled at 1000 GMT on Wednesday, but had not been allowed in as of 1345 GMT.

Kobzev, one of the lawyers, confirmed he had been denied access which he said was unacceptable.

Navalny is being held in a prison camp in Vladimir region around 100 km (62 miles)east of Moscow.

The federal prison service and the regional one in Vladimir did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Navalny’s lawyers said prison officials had told them it was not possible to visit their client due to unspecified security measures.

Volkov said it was possible Navalny had been moved to the prison hospital and that the facility’s administration was trying to hide that fact.

“Given all of the circumstances known to us, the sharp deterioration of his health can only cause extreme concern,” said Volkov.

Reporting by Tom Balmforth, Polina Nikolskaya; editing by Andrew Osborn

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