Allies of jailed Kremlin critic pledge prison protest unless a doctor of his choice sees him

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Allies of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said on Friday they would stage a rolling protest outside his prison next week unless he is examined by a doctor of his choice and given what they regard as proper medicine.

Navalny, one of President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critics, has complained of acute back and leg pain and accused authorities of refusing him access to his chosen doctor and of declining to supply him with the right medicine for a condition he has joked darkly could deprive him of the use of both legs.

Members of the Doctors Alliance trade union, a group the authorities regard as opposition activists, said in a video released on Friday that they would demonstrate outside Navalny’s prison on Tuesday unless he gets to see the doctor he wants and the medicine he needs by the end of Monday.

Authorities at the IK-2 corrective penal colony 100 km (60 miles) east of Moscow where the 44-year-old opposition politician is being held have said his condition is satisfactory and that he has been provided with all necessary medical care.

State media and some members of a prison monitoring group have accused him of faking his medical problems to keep himself in the public eye, something Navalny and his allies deny.

Navalny was jailed in February for two and a half years on charges he called politically motivated. He was arrested as he returned to Russia from Germany in January, where he had been recovering from what doctors said was a nerve agent poisoning.

The West, including the European Court of Human Rights, has demanded Russia release Navalny. Moscow has called such appeals unacceptable interference in its internal affairs and questioned whether Navalny was really poisoned.

Some state media or media sympathetic to the state on Friday ran CCTV footage of what they said was Navalny walking around the prison without any obvious signs of discomfort.

Reuters could not independently verify the footage.

State media portrayed his jail, which Navalny has called “our friendly concentration camp”, as clean, well run and humane.

State outlet RT cited Natalia Avdeeva, a prison paramedic, as saying that Navalny had been taken to a local hospital, undergone tests and a scan, and been offered the right medicine.

She told RT that Navalny had refused treatment however, insisting he only wanted his own doctor.

Anastasia Vasilyeva, a Navalny ally and medic, confirmed he had refused treatment, but said he had done so because the medicine he was being offered had been wrongly prescribed and, in at least one case, would harm rather than help him.