Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on Monday said his health was further deteriorating but added that he would continue a hunger strike in demand of proper medical care at his prison camp.
Navalny launched a hunger strike last Wednesday after complaining that the prison doctor would only give him painkillers as a treatment for severe back pain and numbness in his legs.
The 44-year-old said Monday that he was suffering from fever and heavy cough.
"I am quoting the official data from today's temperature measurement: 'Navalny A.A., strong cough, temperature 38.1 (degrees Celsius/ 100.6 degrees Fahrenheit)'," Navalny wrote on his Instagram on Monday.
"P.S. I am continuing my hunger strike, of course."
The opposition politician also said three people from his ward had been hospitalized with tuberculosis, going on to joke darkly that catching the disease might give him some relief from his other ailments.
"If I have tuberculosis, then maybe it'll chase out the pain in my back and numbness in my legs. That'd be nice," he wrote.
Tested for coronavirus
The Izvestia newspaper, a pro-Kremlin daily, reported on Monday that Navalny had been transferred to a medical ward for observation, with symptoms of a respiratory illness," notably a high fever."
All necessary tests were being carried out, including a coronavirus test, the paper said citing the prison services.
Izvestia did not mention where the medical ward was, but according to one of Navalny's lawyers, it appeared to be within the IK-2 corrective penal colony where he was being held, the TV Rain outlet reported.
Harsh prison conditions
Navalny, a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, is currently serving a two-and-half-year sentence on fraud charges.
He is being held in a penal colony some 100 km (60 miles) east of Moscow, which is known as one of Russia's harshest prisons.
"I am surprised that there is no Ebola virus here," Navalny said on Monday.
He recently filed two complaints against prison authorities saying he was being woken up eight times a night by guards who would announce to a recording camera that he was still in his cell.
Prison authorities have denied sleep deprivation and said previously that Navalny's condition was satisfactory.
Amnesty International's secretary-general, Agnes Callamard has appealed to Putin seeking his immediate release.
"There is a real prospect that #Russia is subjecting him to a slow death. He must be granted immediate access to a medical doctor he trusts and he must be freed," she said on Twitter.
The Alliance of Doctors, a medical trade union headed by Navalny's personal doctor and ally Anastasia Vasilyeva, said it would hold a protest outside the prison from Tuesday, demanding he receives proper medical treatment.
"We are going there to understand what the hell is going on at this terrible colony," Vasilyeva wrote on Twitter.
Navalny was arrested on his return to Russia after spending months in Germany recovering from poisoning last summer. He blames the Kremlin, particularly a "hit squad" of the FSB domestic intelligence service under Putin's command, for the attempt on his life.
adi/aw (AFP, Reuters)