Moscow, Apr 20: Several doctors were prevented Tuesday from seeing Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in a prison hospital after his three-week hunger strike and prosecutors detailed a sweeping, new case against his organisation.
Navalny was transferred Sunday from a penal colony east of Moscow to a hospital unit at a prison in Vladimir, a city 180 kilometers (110 miles) east of the capital after his lawyers and associates said his condition has dramatically worsened.
In a post on his Instagram account, Navalny described a grueling search that lasted for several hours before his transfer and wryly described his condition.
You would laugh if you see me now a skeleton staggers around his cell, the post read. "They can use me to scare children who refuse to eat: If you don't eat porridge, you will be like that man with big ears, shaven head and hollow eyes.'
Navalny added a serious note that he was glad to hear from his lawyer about broad sympathy and support for him in Russia and abroad.
His lawyer, Vadim Kobzev, tweeted that Navalny so far has received only one glucose injection since Sunday at the hospital unit, which is intended to treat tuberculosis patients.
Six other attempts to give him a shot failed because paramedics apparently weren't qualified enough to find his vein, he said. His arms are all blue with the shots, Kobzev said.
Reports about Navalny's rapidly deteriorating health have drawn international outrage.
His personal physician, Dr. Anastasia Vasilyeva, led three other medical experts to try to visit Navalny at the prison clinic and the IK-3 prison in the city of Vladimir. They were denied entry after waiting for hours outside the gates.
It's a show of disrespect and mockery of the doctors, Vasilyeva tweeted, adding that Navalny's life and health are clearly in danger.
Navalny, who is Russian President Vladimir Putin's most adamant opponent, has been on a hunger strike since March 31 to protest the refusal by prison officials to let his doctors visit him and provide adequate treatment for back pains and numbness in his legs.
Russia's penitentiary service insists that Navalny was getting all the medical help he needs.
Navalny was arrested in January upon his return from Germany, where he had spent five months convalescing from the Novichok nerve agent poisoning he blames on the Kremlin an accusation Russian officials have rejected.
His arrest triggered the biggest protests seen across Russia in recent years. In February, a Moscow court ordered him to serve 2 1/2 years in prison on a 2014 embezzlement conviction that the European Court of Human Rights deemed to be arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable.
The prison service said in a statement Monday that Navalny's condition was deemed satisfactory, but another of his physicians, Dr. Yaroslav Ashikhmin, said over the weekend that test results provided by his family show Navalny has sharply elevated levels of potassium, which can bring on cardiac arrest, as well as heightened creatinine levels that indicate impaired kidney function.
Despite his worsening condition, Navalny still showed his sardonic humor.
I laughed when I saw medical luminaries' comments that with such a level of potassium that I had in my tests, I should have been either in emergency care or in a coffin, he went on. No, they wouldn't get me that easily. I wouldn't be scared with potassium after Novichok.
In response to Navalny's deteriorating health, his associates have called for a nationwide rally Wednesday, the same day that Putin is scheduled to deliver his annual state of the nation address.
Russian authorities, meanwhile, have escalated their crackdown on Navalny's allies and supporters, with the Moscow prosecutor's office asking a court to brand Navalny's Foundation for Fighting Corruption and his network of regional offices as extremist organisations.
Human rights activists say such a move would paralyze their activities and expose their members and donors to prison sentences of up to 10 years.
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New Delhi, May 16: The Centre directed Uttar Pradesh and Bihar on Sunday to prevent dumping of dead bodies in the Ganga and its tributaries, and focus on their safe disposal and a dignified cremation after corpses were seen floating in these rivers following a spurt in the number of coronavirus cases.
At a review meeting conducted on May 15-16, the Centre said dumping of dead bodies and partially burnt or decomposed corpses in the Ganga and its tributaries has recently been reported, which is "most undesirable and alarming".
"Namami Gange directs states to prevent dumping of dead bodies in the Ganga and focus on their safe disposal and providing support for ensuring dignified cremation," the Jal Shakti Ministry said.
The state pollution control boards were directed to monitor the water quality more frequently in consultations with the health departments.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) was assigned the task of overall monitoring, providing guidance to the state pollution control boards and taking up advanced analysis in the matter.
Support for cremation needs to be given top priority. Effective implementation of the government orders needs to be ensured. No loss of time should take place in implementation, the ministry said.
An advisory was issued by Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director General, National Mission for Clean Ganga, to the district magistrates, who are also the chairpersons of the district Ganga committees, on May 11.
This was followed up by a letter the next day to the chief secretaries to prevent the dumping of dead bodies in the river and ensure enforcement of the government guidelines on the cremation of COVID-19 victims.
The letter also advised the states to provide financial assistance as well as regulate the rates for the cremation or burial process.
On May 15, the steps taken in this regard in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were reviewed at a meeting chaired Pankaj Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti, and further action points were decided.
Highlighting the instructions already given, Kumar had called for expeditious action and underscored the need to give equal attention to such incidents in urban and rural areas along the Ganga and other rivers.
"Stopping of dumping of dead bodies as well as their safe disposal and protection of water quality have to be ensured on a war footing. After knowing the progress from the states, the CWC (Central Water Commission), the CPCB and the state pollution control boards would also be giving their feedback and action plans," he had said.
Mishra stated that the situation is being monitored and follow-up action is being taken in several districts such as Unnao, Kanpur rural, Ghazipur and Balia in Uttar Pradesh and Buxar and Saran in Bihar.
However, some cases have also been reported from other districts. He asked the state missions to keep an eye on the situation.
Mishra emphasised the need to strengthen enforcement, maintain vigil and take proactive action to facilitate and support the families for the cremation of the bodies and asked the state missions to specifically report on this.
"If needed, the project directors can assess and also give support to the district Ganga committees for this out of the NMCG funds available with them, while keeping the NMCG informed," he said.
Rajnish Dubey, Additional Chief Secretary, Urban Development, and Anurag Shrivastav, Principal Secretary, Jal Shakti and Project Director, State Ganga Mission, represented Uttar Pradesh in the meeting.
Shrivastava said all the district magistrates have been alerted about the issue and patrolling is being carried out to prevent dumping of dead bodies in the Ganga.
He also informed that 13 crematoria under Namami Gange, in addition to the existing ones, have been made available for the cremation of dead bodies.
It was informed that orders have been issued for financial support for cremations in urban areas. Dubey said similar orders for a financial support of Rs 5,000 have been issued by the Panchayati Raj department for rural areas and the SDRF and other forces have also been asked to carry out patrolling.
Anand Kishore, Principal Secretary, Urban Development and Project Director, State Ganga Mission, Government of Bihar, informed that it has been decided that the cremation or burial expenses of those dying due to COVID-19 will be borne by the state government.
He added that even if the deceased did not have a COVID-positive report but showed symptoms of the disease, the family will be offered this support.
He also said patrolling is being done to prevent further dumping of dead bodies in the river, especially in districts like Buxar and Saran (Chhapra).
CWC Chairman S K Halder informed that they are monitoring the flow and the water quality of the river through their stations and will further increase the frequency.
CPCB Member Secretary Prashant Gargava said the board has forewarned all water monitoring stations along the Ganga and her tributaries. The periodicity of testing the water quality has also been increased.
Debashree Mukherjee, Additional Secretary with the Jal Shakti Ministry, stated that besides an urgent assessment of the risks to the riverside communities by the pollution control boards, there is a need to raise awareness on the dos and don'ts as regards the use of river water and to prevent such incidents of dumping of bodies in the river.