Russian Opposition Calls for Protests as Navalny’s Health Worsens  

Allies of jailed Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny announced nationwide protests for this Wednesday — after the opposition figure’s family and personal doctors released blood analysis results that suggested Navalny was at high risk of cardiac arrest or kidney failure barring immediate care.  The planned protests fall on the same day that President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual state of the nation address from just outside the Kremlin — all but ensuring a tense standoff between Navalny supporters and police in the capital, Moscow. Navalny’s chief strategist, Leonid Volkov, announced the protests in a post to YouTube — arguing there was no time to lose.  “They’re murdering Alexey Navalny — in a terrifying way right before our eyes,” said Volkov.  Over the weekend, Navalny’s doctors said that blood tests — provided by the opposition figure’s lawyers to his family — showed Navalny’s potassium count had reached a “critical level.”   “This means both impaired renal function and that serious heart rhythm problems can happen any minute,” said the letter, which was signed by Navalny’s personal physician, Anastasia Vasilyeva, and three other doctors.  “If they don’t start treating Navalny, he will die within days,” warned his other physician, Alexander Polupan.   As of Sunday afternoon, prison authorities had yet to respond to their appeal for emergency medical care. A still image from CCTV footage published by Life.Ru shows what is said to be jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny speaking with a prison guard at the IK-2 corrective penal colony in the town of Pokrov, Russia, in this image released Apr. 2, 2021.Also sounding the alarm is a group of leading western academics and cultural figures — including Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, Hollywood director J.J. Abrams, award-winning author Salmon Rushdie, and Radiohead singer Thom Yorke — who published an appealFILE – National security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington.On Sunday, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program that “there will be consequences” if Navalny dies.  On Friday, U.S. President Joe Biden called the Kremlin’s treatment of Navalny “totally unfair and totally inappropriate.”    The Kremlin has rebuffed Western demands and sanctions as attempts to interfere in Russia’s internal affairs.     Authorities in Moscow also maintain that any questions regarding Navalny’s treatment are to be directed to the prison authorities but said that his basic needs will be met.    

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