Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said he had gone on a hunger strike in prisons to protest the authorities’ inability to provide proper treatment for his back and leg pain.
In a statement posted on Instagram on Wednesday, Navalny complained about the prison authorities’ refusal to give him the right medication and to allow his doctor to visit him behind bars.
He also protested the time checks a guard gave him at night, saying they amounted to sleep deprivation torture.
Navalny said in his statement that he had no choice but to protest with a hunger strike because his physical condition had deteriorated. He said his back pain has spread to his right leg and he feels numbness in his left leg.
“What else can I do?” he wrote. “I have declared a hunger strike demanding that they allow a visit by a visiting doctor. So I’m lying here, hungry, but still with two legs.
Navalny, 44, who is President Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken opponent, was arrested in January on his return from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from poisoning with a nerve agent he attributes to the Kremlin. Russian authorities have dismissed the accusation.
Last month Navalny was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for violating his probation terms while recovering in Germany. The conviction stems from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that Navalny dismissed as fabricated – and which the European Court of Human Rights ruled illegal.
Navalny was transferred this month from a Moscow prison to a penal colony in Pokrov, Vladimir region, 85 kilometers east of the Russian capital. The establishment stands out among Russian penitentiaries for its particularly strict detention habits, which consist of standing at attention for hours.