The European Council has expressed deep concerns over the continued deterioration in Russian Opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny’s health. Navalny had been allegedly poisoned last year in what is widely seen as an assassination attempt, and is presently being held captive in a penal colony.

In a statement released the European Council said, “The European Union is deeply concerned about reports that the Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny’s health in the penal colony continues to deteriorate even further. We call on the Russian authorities to grant him immediate access to medical professionals he trusts. The Russian authorities are responsible for Mr Navalny’s safety and health in the penal colony, to which we hold them to account.”

The statement further said, “EU will continue to call for his immediate and unconditional release as we consider his sentencing politically motivated and running counter to Russia’s international human rights obligations. In this regard, we also expect Russia to fulfil its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, including to comply with the interim measure of the European Court of Human Rights with regard to the nature and extent of risk to Mr Navalny’s life.”

President of EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen too tweeted, “I am deeply worried about Alexei Navalny’s health. He must immediately receive access to proper medical treatment.”

Navalny is a lawyer, leader of the Russia for the Future Party and founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, In 2013 he was accused of embezzlement but awarded a suspended sentence. He was accused of embezzlement again and received yet another suspended sentence in 2014.

In August 2020, Navalny was hospitalized after being poisoned with a nerve agent. He was treated in Berlin and released after a month. When he returned to Russia in January 2021, he was arrested for parole violation because he was unable to report to prison authorities during the time of his illness. On February 2, his suspended sentence was replaced with a prison sentence which he is serving at present in a “corrective labor colony” in Vladimir Oblast.  

*Feature image via Wikimedia Commons.