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Alexei Navalny goes on hunger strike in Russian prison over medical care

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny says he has started a prison hunger strike to protest officials’ failure to provide proper treatment for his back and leg pains.

In a statement posted Wednesday on Instagram, Navalny complained about prison authorities’ refusal to give him the right medicines and to allow his doctor to visit him behind bars.

He also protested the hourly checks a guard makes on him at night, saying they amount to sleep deprivation torture.

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Navalny said in his statement that he had no choice but to protest with a hunger strike because his physical condition has worsened. He said his back pains have spread to his right leg and he feels numbness in his left leg.

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“What else could I do?” he wrote. “I have declared a hunger strike demanding that they allow a visit by an invited doctor. So I’m lying here, hungry, but still with two legs.”

The 44-year-old Navalny, who is President Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken opponent, was arrested in January upon his return 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.

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Last month, Navalny was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for violating the terms of his probation during his convalescence in Germany. The sentence stems from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that Navalny has rejected as fabricated _ and which the European ?ourt of Human Rights has ruled to be unlawful.

Navalny was moved this month from a Moscow jail to a prison colony in Pokrov in the Vladimir region, 85 kilometres (53 miles) east of the Russian capital. The facility stands out among Russian penitentiaries for its particularly strict inmate routines, which include standing at attention for hours.

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