Putin critic Alexei Navalny could 'die any moment' as prison hunger strike continues, says worried doctors
JAILED Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny could die at "any moment" as his health rapidly deteriorates amid his ongoing hunger strike, his doctors warn.
Medic Yaroslav Ashikhmin claims outspoken Navalny's latest test results show extremely high levels of potassium – putting him at risk of imminent cardiac arrest.
The physician also says he has soaring creatinine levels, which suggest his kidneys are already damaged.
"Our patient could die at any moment," he wrote on Facebook.
However, Russia's ambassador to the UK has accused Navalny of attention-seeking.
On March 31, Putin's most prominent opponent went on hunger strike to demand proper medical treatment for back pain and numbness in his legs and hands.
On Saturday, US President Joe Biden added his voice to a growing international chorus of protest at the treatment of the activist, describing his situation as "totally unfair".
Navalny, 44, was imprisoned in February and is serving two-and-a-half years on old embezzlement charges in a penal colony in the town of Pokrov around 60 miles east of Moscow.
Navalny's personal doctor Anastasia Vasilyeva and three more doctors -including cardiologist Ashikhmin -have now asked prison officials to grant them immediate access before it is too late.
Navalny barely survived a poisoning with the Novichok nerve agent in August which he later blamed on the Kremlin.
His doctors say his hunger strike might have exacerbated his condition.
Having blood potassium levels higher than 6.0 mmol (millimole) per litre usually requires immediate treatment. Navalny's were at 7.1, the doctors said.
"This means both impaired renal function and that serious heart rhythm problems can happen any minute," said a statement on Vasilyeva's Twitter account.
The doctors said he had to be examined immediately "taking into account the blood tests and his recent poisoning".
Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh, who accompanied him when he collapsed on a plane after the poisoning in August, said the situation was critical again.
"Alexei is dying," she said on Facebook. "With his condition it's a matter of days."
She said she felt like she was "on that plane again, only this time it's landing in slow motion", pointing out that access to Navalny was restricted and few Russians were aware of what was actually going on with him in prison.
"Allow a doctor to see my dad," Navalny's daughter Dasha, a student at Stanford University, also wrote on Twitter.
On Saturday, responding to reporters' questions about Navalny's plight, President Biden responded: "It's totally, totally unfair, totally inappropriate".
More than 70 prominent writers, artists and academics, including Jude Law, Vanessa Redgrave and Benedict Cumberbatch, have called on Putin to ensure that Navalny receives proper treatment immediately.
Navalny's team had earlier announced plans to stage what they said would be "modern Russia's biggest protest".
His allies said they would set a date for the protest once 500,000 supporters had registered with a website.
Yarmysh on Saturday urged more Russians to sign up, saying that a big rally could help save Navalny's life.
"Putin only reacts to mass street protests," she added.
Earlier this week, Navalny's wife Yulia, who visited him in jail, said her husband had lost 20lbs since starting his hunger strike.
However, in a television interview with the BBC, Russia's ambassador to Britain accused Navalny of attention-seeking.
"He will not be allowed to die in prison, but I can say that Mr. Navalny, he behaves like a hooligan, absolutely," said Andrei Kelin.
"His purpose for all of that is to attract attention for him."
Navalny has said prison authorities are threatening to put him in a straitjacket to force-feed him unless he abandons his hunger strike.
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