Russia has detained 2 of Alexei Navalny's top allies ahead of planned protests over the Putin critic's health

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Sinéad Baker
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MOSCOW, RUSSIA FEBRUARY 2, 2021: Opposition activist Alexei Navalny appears at Moscow City Court for a Simonovsky District Court hearing into an application by the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service to convert his suspended sentence of three and a half years into a real jail term. Navalny, who had been wanted in Russia since December 2020 for violating probation conditions in the Yves Rocher case, was detained at Sheremetyevo Airport near Moscow on his return to Russia from Germany on 17 January 2021. On 18 January, Moscow Regions Khimki Court ruled that Navalny be put into custody until 15 February 2021. Moscow City Court Press Service/TASS THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY (Photo by Moscow City Court Press Office\TASS via Getty Images)
Alexei Navalny. Moscow City Court Press Office\TASS via Getty Images
  • Two of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's allies have been detained, their lawyers said.

  • They took place Wednesday morning, before planned protests over Navalny's health while in prison.

  • Navalny is on hunger strike over a lack of access to medical treatment. Doctors warn he could die.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Russia has detained two of opposition leader Alexei Navalny's closest allies, their lawyers said, ahead of planned protests over his health.

Reuters reported that Lyubov Sobol, who had appeared on Navalny's YouTube channel; and Kira Yarmysh, his spokeswoman, were detained in Moscow Wednesday morning.

Navalny's team had urged people to protest over his treatment in jail and demand that he get medical treatment.

Wednesday also marks Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual address to the Federal Assembly in Moscow, a de facto State of the Union address.

Navalny is three weeks into a hunger strike over what he says is a lack of access to medical treatment while in jail.

His doctors are demanding to see him, saying the hunger strike puts him at risk of severe heart problems and warning that he could "die any minute." But several doctors, including his personal physician Dr. Anastasia Vasilyeva, said they were denied entry into his prison to see him.

Navalny also said that prison authorities threatened to force feed him.

Yarmysh was placed under house arrest in January after she attended a protest against Navalny's prison sentence.Under her house arrest rules, she is allowed to leave the house for one hour.

It was during this hour, between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m, that she was arrested on Wednesday, her lawyer said.

Navalny is serving a 2-1/2-year sentence after being found guilty of missing parole meetings. His lawyer said he missed the them because he was in Germany recovering from being poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent. Navalny has blamed the poisoning on Putin.

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