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Switzerland expresses concern about Navalny’s health

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny attended the Babuskinsky District court in Moscow, Russia, on February 20, 2021. Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) says it is worried about Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny's health. The opposition leader has been transferred to a prison hospital near Moscow after 20 days on hunger strike.

This content was published on April 20, 2021 - 11:55
Keystone-SDA/sb

The Swiss foreign ministry told the Swiss News Agency Keystone-SDA on Monday that the Russian authorities must guarantee Navalny’s safety and wellbeing. It also demanded his release.

Navalny is serving a 2-1/2 year sentence on old embezzlement charges he calls trumped up.

The Swiss foreign ministry described Navalny’s sentence as problematic. It said the European Court of Human Rights had qualified his legal case as “arbitrary and clearly inadequate”. Russia had violated the conventions that it had agreed to respect, said the FDFA.

The opposition leader was arrested on his return to Russia in January after treatment in Germany for what German authorities say was poisoning in Russia with a banned nerve agent. He and western governments called this an attempted assassination. The Kremlin denies any blame.

Navalny went on hunger strike on March 31 to protest against what he said was the refusal of prison authorities to provide him with treatment for leg and back pain. Russia says he has been treated well and is exaggerating illness to gain attention.

The opposition leader has been transferred to the hospital of penal colony No. 3 in the city of Vladimir, east of Moscow. On Monday, his lawyer Alexei Liptser said after visiting him in the hospital that his health was deteriorating and he had again been denied access to his own doctors. Russia's prison service said Navalny, 44, was in a "satisfactory" state and he was being given "vitamin therapy" with his consent.

Other western states and leaders, including Germany’s Angela Merkel, have expressed concerns about Navalny’s recent health.

The European Union and the United States have imposed sanctions on Russians it deems responsible for Navalny’s poisoning.

Switzerland has not yet taken a decision on the issue of sanctions, the FDFA said. It may decide to follow the other countries’ sanctions based on Swiss embargo law.

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