Alexei Navalny, a Russian opposition leader and outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin, suspects a mysterious illness he’s suffering to be slow-action poisoning, his spokesperson said Thursday.
Navalny, who’s imprisoned in a Russian penal colony, has been grappling with severe stomach pains. His spokesperson said he could not eat the prison food provided him because it was making the pains worse. He has also been banned from purchasing alternative food.
“He doesn’t eat anything because he is prohibited from receiving parcels with food or to buy food in the prison store, and the food that is provided by the prison to him actually worsens his stomach pain,” spokesperson Kira Yarmysh told Reuters, speaking in English.
“His health is not a good condition,” she added. “We can’t rule out the idea that he is being poisoned, not in a huge dosage as before, but in small ones so that he doesn’t die immediately but for him to suffer and to ruin his health.”
Now 46 years old, Navalny was arrested in January 2021 upon a return to Russia from Germany—where he had just spent five months being treated for a poisoning he blamed on the Kremlin.
He’s serving combined sentences of 11-1/2 years for fraud and contempt of court on charges he says were fabricated to silence him.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Navalny said he’d been sent to a “working cell” that had changed his daily routine “from hellish to extremely hellish.”
Along with being forbidden to buy his own food, Navalny said, “There’s also a whole bunch of other unpleasant little things that a free man would simply not understand.”