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Alexei Navalny’s doctor said Saturday that the imprisoned Russian opposition leader is near death after three weeks on a hunger strike.
Dr. Yaroslav Ashikhmin said test results show Navalny’s health is deteriorating rapidly.
“Our patient could die at any moment,” Ashikhmin wrote on Facebook.
The doctor has been prevented from seeing Navalny, 44, who is President Vladimir Putin’s most visible and outspoken critic.
He says samples collected by family members reveal Navalny is suffering from dangerously high levels of potassium, which can cause heart failure, and creatinine, which can be a sign of failing kidneys.
Navalny’s supporters called on the Putin government to free Navalny so he can get proper medical treatment.
“Action must be taken immediately,” Anastasia Vasilyeva, head of the Navalny-backed Alliance of Doctors union, said on Twitter.
Navalny went on hunger strike to protest the refusal of prison officials to let his doctors visit when he began experiencing severe back pain and a loss of feeling in his legs.
Russia insists Navalny is receiving all the medical help he needs.
Navalny was arrested on Jan. 17 when he returned to Russia from Germany, where had spent five months recovering from nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin.
Russian officials have denied any involvement and questioned if Navalny was really poisoned.
He was ordered to serve 2 1/4 u00bd years in prison on the grounds that his recovery in Germany violated a suspended sentence for a fraud conviction that Navalny says was based on trumped up charges.
Navalny was sent to one of Russia’s harshest penal facilities where government critics and common criminals are subjected to an array of physical and psychological abuses, watchdogs say.