Alexei Navalny says he is going on a hunger strike until he receives proper treatment for back and leg pain. The outspoken Kremlin critic, who is being held in a harsh penal colony east of Moscow, says pain has spread from his back to his right leg and his left leg is becoming numb. "What else could I do?" he wrote in a statement released on Instagram via his lawyers. "I have declared a hunger strike demanding that they allow a visit by an invited doctor in compliance with the law. So I'm lying here, hungry, but still with two legs." He said he has been in pain for weeks but has only been given basic painkillers and authorities have refused to allow his doctor to visit him.
Navalny also wrote to the prison chief, saying "every convict has the right to invite a specialist for a check and consultation." He said that instead of medical assistance, he is "subjected to sleep deprivation torture, being woken up eight times every night." Reuters reports that a group of medical professionals released an open letter calling for Navalny to be given proper medical care, warning that failure to do so "may lead to severe health consequences, including an irreversible, full or partial loss of lower limb functions." Navalny was arrested in January after returning to Russia from Germany, where he spent five months recovering after being poisoned with a nerve agent. (When he was sentenced to two years and eight months for an alleged parole violation, he denounced "Putin the Poisoner.")