Navalny in hospital after ‘exposure to chemical’
Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (pictured) has been moved to a hospital with symptoms that a doctor said looked like “the result of harmful effects of undefined chemical substances”.
Although there was no sign that Navalny might die, the news was a reminder that opposition politician Boris Nemtsov was shot dead outside the Kremlin in 2015.
Navalny’s spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, said the former lawyer had suffered a “severe allergic reaction”, while he had never complained of allergies before. She said Navalny had “severe swelling of the face and skin redness”.
Navalny’s ally Leonid Volkov said his colleague’s sickness was probably a result of poor prison sanitation, saying he had been held in exactly the same cell last month and also suffered a skin rash.
Russian President Vladimir Putin led the country’s first large-scale naval parade yesterday (Sunday) in years, the day after the detentions of hundreds of anti-government demonstrators in Moscow.
Putin joined the Navy Day parade in St Petersburg, the biggest in years, including 43 ships and submarines and 4,000 personnel.
In Moscow, nearly 1,400 people were detained on Saturday in a violent police crackdown on pro-Navalny protesters.
The protesters were condemning the banning by the election authorities of opposition candidates from the September 8 election for the Moscow city council.
The authorities declared the protest illegal and sought to block the event but thousands attended.
Chants of “Russia without Putin” and “Putin resign” were heard as the police used batons to beat back protesters.
At least two people appeared to have suffered serious head wounds. Activists said the official reaction was the harshest since a wave of protests in 2011 and 2012.
Saturday’s protest showed how Putin opponents and younger voters remain determined to open Russia’s one-party rule to competition. Navalny called the protest to demand the right for opposition candidates to run in the September election.
The authorities say the candidates were excluded because they failed to collect enough genuine signatures to stand.
Navalny’s allies have no parliamentary seats and are denied coverage in the state-run media.
Some opinion polls in the past have shown support for Navalny in single digits but he won almost a third of the vote in the 2013 Moscow mayoral election.
Putin’s approval rating is still over 60 per cent but his popularity has fallen with declining incomes.
Alexei Navalny is arrested regularly. Picture credit: Wikimedia