Alexei Navalny transferred to Russian prison hospital, health worsening, lawyer says

Alexei Navalny transferred to Russian prison hospital, health worsening, lawyer says

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been transferred to a prison hospital.

US President Joe Biden's National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that Washington had warned the Kremlin that it would be "held accountable by the global community" if Navalny died.

Navalny began a hunger strike to protest the refusal to let his doctors visit when he began experiencing severe back pain and a loss of feeling in his legs. The Kremlin said it did not have information on Navalny's condition and it was not the role of President Vladimir Putin to monitor the health of prisoners.

Since last month, the politician has been serving his sentence in a penal colony notorious for its harsh conditions. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said police will treat any unauthorized protests as illegal.

Navalny's top strategist, Leonid Volkov, said no one should assume it was happening until the opposition leader's lawyers confirm it.

Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner and Putin's most-prominent critic, was first arrested in January upon his return to Russian Federation following a suspected Novichok poisoning, that is thought to have been carried out by an FSB hit squad.

Earlier this month, the U.S. slapped new sanctions on 32 Russian entities and individuals over allegations of their interference in the 2020 USA presidential elections and the purported hacking of United States software supply chain networks.

The saga is playing out against the backdrop of increased tensions between Russian Federation and the west over a troop build-up in Ukraine that is unprecedented in recent years. "The state of health of those convicted and jailed on Russian territory can not and should not be a theme of their interest", spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

The Kremlin said on Monday it would retaliate for any further sanctions and rejected foreign countries' statements on the Navalny case.

The arms depot explosions in October and December 2014 came as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation considered transferring Czech arms to Ukraine to help it fight Russian-backed separatists.

Faced with the largest deployment of Russian troops on Ukraine's borders since 2014, President Volodymyr Zelensky has requested more help from the West.

Moscow said Sunday it would expel a Ukrainian diplomat, prompting an immediate pledge of retaliation from Kiev.

Putin himself has given no explanation for the build-up, but observers have suggested that it could be designed as a "test" for Joe Biden after he took a tough line with the Kremlin, and as Putin sizes up his new counterpart.

Prague said it had learned that two Russian agents, later accused by Britain of poisoning a former Russian spy in England, were in the Czech Republic at the time of the blasts. The Kremlin has denied any role.

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