Jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny has tested negative for the coronavirus as concerns over his health mount after he was moved to a prison sick ward with a severe cough and temperature.
"The first test showed a negative result. However, for some reason, they took a second analysis from him. We do not know that result yet," Navalny’s lawyer, Olga Mikhailova, said on April 7.
With Navalny only months removed from a poison attack that forced doctors into putting him in a medically induced coma for weeks, his associates, including Anastasia Vasilyeva, his personal doctor and the head of the Alliance of Doctors trade union, attempted to see the Kremlin critic on April 6, only to be rebuffed by prison officials.
Police later detained Vasilyeva and at least nine other supporters gathered outside the prison.
President Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic is currently incarcerated in what is known as one of Russia’s toughest penitentiaries, Correctional Colony No. 2 in Pokrov, about 100 kilometers east of Moscow.
Navalny, 44, said in an Instagram post published by his allies on April 5 that he had a “severe cough” and a fever of 38.1 degrees Celsius, after a third prisoner in his crowded quarters had been sent to the hospital with suspected tuberculosis.
Navalny has been on hunger strike for nearly a week to protest what he says are deliberate attempts to deprive him of sleep and the failure of authorities to provide proper medical treatment for back and leg pain. His lawyers say that since entering prison last month Navalny has lost a total of 13 kilograms, including 5 kilograms over the past week.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said Navalny would receive the necessary medical care but no preferential treatment.
Navalny’s health condition is potentially precarious because he spent months last year recovering in Berlin from poisoning by a military-grade nerve agent while traveling in Siberia. Navalny has accused Putin of ordering security agents to assassinate him with the poison, something the Kremlin denies.
Navalny was arrested at a Moscow airport in January upon his return from Germany on charges of violating his parole, sparking large-scale protests.
A Moscow court in February found him guilty of violating the terms of his parole from an older embezzlement case that is widely considered to be politically motivated.
His suspended 3 1/2-year sentence was converted into jail time, though the court reduced that amount to 2 1/2 years for time already served in detention.