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Navalny’s doctor among nine detained during prison protest

Moscow: Supporters of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny have been detained outside a penal colony east of Moscow where the Kremlin critic is currently serving time.

Navalny has been on hunger strike for nearly a week to protest what he says is the failure of authorities to provide proper medical treatment for his back and leg pains.

Police officers detain Dr Anastasia Vasilyeva outside the prison where Alexei Navalny is being held.

Police officers detain Dr Anastasia Vasilyeva outside the prison where Alexei Navalny is being held.Credit:AP

Doctors from the Navalny-backed Alliance of Doctors union and the politician’s supporters gathered in front of the prison on Tuesday, local time, but authorities denied their demand for access to him.

Local police said they detained nine people who allegedly “breached public order”. They included Navalny’s physician and leader of the Alliance of Doctors, Dr Anastasia Vasilyeva, and several journalists.

Navalny, 44, is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest opponent. He was arrested in January upon returning to Moscow from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. Russian authorities have rejected the accusation.

A court ordered Navalny in February to serve 2½ years in prison for violating the terms of his probation, including when he was convalescing in Germany, from a 2014 embezzlement conviction. Navalny has rejected the conviction as fabricated, and the European Сourt of Human Rights found it “arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable”.

Activist Ksenia Pakhomova takes a selfie as she is detained outside the prison.

Activist Ksenia Pakhomova takes a selfie as she is detained outside the prison.Credit:AP

Authorities transferred Navalny last month from a Moscow jail to the IK-2 penal colony in the Vladimir region, 85 kilometres east of the Russian capital. The facility in the town of Pokrov stands out among Russian penitentiaries for its especially strict inmate routines, which include standing at attention for hours.

Within weeks of being imprisoned, Navalny said he developed severe back and leg pains and was effectively deprived of sleep because a guard checks on him hourly at night. He went on a hunger strike last Wednesday, demanding access to proper medication and a visit from his doctor.

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