FILE PHOTO: A still image taken from video footage shows Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is accused of flouting the terms of a suspended sentence for embezzlement, inside a defendant dock during the announcement of a court verdict in Moscow, Russia February 2, 2021. Press service of Simonovsky District Court/Handout via REUTERS

An ally of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said on Monday she was braced for bad news on the health of the hunger-striking opposition politician when his lawyers get to see him again, after they were kept away over the weekend.

Navalny, a prominent opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, started refusing food on March 31 in protest at what he said was the refusal of prison authorities to provide him with adequate medical care for acute leg and back pain.

“We don’t know what happened to him over the weekend because the lawyers aren’t allowed to visit him then. I hope we will get some news today but I’m very afraid to receive bad news,” his ally Lyubov Sobol told Ekho Moskvy radio station.


“I think there is no hope we will receive good news about his health today. I think his state is really very close to critical, close to being very grave. Twenty days on hunger strike – that is an awful lot.”

Navalny’s allies said at the weekend his life was hanging by a thread, and announced plans for what they hope will be the largest protests in modern Russian history on Wednesday.

The fate of 44-year-old Navalny is adding to already severe strains in Russia’s ties with the West. President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday that the U.S. government had told Russia “there will be consequences” if Navalny dies in prison.

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