Geneva [Switzerland], April 21 (ANI): A group of UN human rights experts on Wednesday expressed alarm at the deteriorating health situation of detained Russian government critic Alexei Navalny, and called for his urgent medical "evacuation" from Russia, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has said.
"We believe Mr Navalny's life is in serious danger," said the independent experts appointed by the Human Rights Council.
Navalny has been incarcerated under harsh conditions in a high-security penal colony and denied access to adequate medical care, OHCHR said in a release. Despite having recently been transferred to a hospital, doctors of his own choosing have not been allowed to visit him.
"Under international human rights law, when detaining a person, irrespective of the reason for the detention, the State bears full responsibility to care for his life and bodily integrity. Due to this heightened duty of care, the Government of the Russian Federation must take all necessary measures to protect Navalny's physical and mental health and well-being," the OHCHR release said, quoting the UN experts.
"We are extremely concerned that the current danger to Navalny's life, his most recent incarceration and the past attacks on him, including an attempt against his life last August with the nerve agent Novichok, which the Russian authorities have yet to effectively investigate, are all part of a deliberate pattern of retaliation against him for his criticism of the Russian Government and a gross violation of his human rights."
Navalny was arrested and placed in detention in January 2021 immediately upon his return to Russia from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from a serious attempt on his life. In February 2021, he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for alleged parole violations while he was abroad for medical treatment.
In early March, there were reports of a sharp deterioration of his health. According to information received by the experts, after the prison authorities failed to provide him with adequate medical care or allow his own physicians to visit him, on March 31 Navalny began a hunger strike in protest.
After reports emerged that he was at imminent risk of irreversible renal damage and possible cardiac arrest, on April 19, he was transferred to a hospital but still does not have access to medical experts of his own choice, the release said.
"We urge the Russian authorities to ensure Navalny has access to his own doctors and to allow him to be evacuated for urgent medical treatment abroad, as they did in August 2020. We reiterate that the Russian Government is accountable for Navalny's life and health while he is in detention," the experts said. (ANI)