Supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny say his health has rapidly deteriorated since being transferred to a Russian prison east of Moscow to serve out his two-and-a-half year sentence handed down by a court in February for violating parole related a prior 2014 suspended sentence.
The New York Times previously described of the facility he was sent to, identified as "Penal Colony No. 2" - which also goes by the initials IK2 - as "notoriously harsh".
Navalny himself is now accusing prison authorities of "deliberate denial of due medical assistance" in order to ensure his suffering, in a letter released to his website via his lawyers.
"My condition has worsened. I feel acute pain in my right leg, and I feel numbness in its lower part," Navalny wrote. "I have trouble walking." His lawyer Olga Mikhailova added to this in televised remarks this week, saying that his condition is "extremely unfavorable". She said, "Everyone is afraid for his life and health."
Navalny himself is alleging a deliberate policy to deprive him of medicines prescribed by his doctor, as well as sleep. "Essentially I am being tortured through sleep deprivation," he additionally complained in the letter.
Some international headlines are running with this, now claiming the 44-year old outspoken Putin critic who previously alleged the Russian president ordered his poisoning with nerve agent last August is being literally tortured as part of his confinement. However, The Associated Press presents the height of the claims as follows:
Navalny blamed his health problems on prison officials failing to provide the right medicines and refusing to allow his doctor to visit him behind bars. He also complained in a second letter that the hourly checks a guard makes on him at night amounted to sleep deprivation torture.
The prison where's he being kept is being further described...
Earlier this month, Navalny was moved to a prison colony in Pokrov in the Vladimir region, 85 kilometers (53 miles) east of Moscow. The facility stands out among Russian penitentiaries for its particularly strict regime that includes routines like standing at attention for hours.
Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) has denied the accusations meanwhile, responding that he's currently in "satisfactory" condition.
"According to the results of the examination, his state of health was assessed as stable and satisfactory," the FSIN said.
On Thursday the Kremlin also addressed what it previously said is a propaganda war surrounding the jailed dissident being waged by the West: "The condition of convicts and people who are serving time in correctional institutions is being monitored by their administrations. That's their job," spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a press briefing.
More protests are expected across Russian cities in the wake of the new reports. Navalny and his supporters have tried to keep his case in the international spotlight after the story fell out of headlines amid revelations he had in past years issued fiercely anti-immigrant statements which were widely seen as xenophobic.