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Alexei Navalny, the imprisoned Kremlin critic, tested negative for the coronavirus, according to his lawyer Olga Mikhailova, who added that he has taken a second examination.

Mr Navalny, 44, a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, declared last week that he would go on a hunger strike in protest of prison authorities’ failure to treat him adequately for acute back and leg pain.

Mr Navalny had been imprisoned in conditions that amounted to torture and could be slowly killing him, according to human rights organization Amnesty International.

Mr Navalny’s wife, Yulia, said she received a letter from prison authorities on March 17 stating that he was missing his passport and that this would prevent him from being admitted to hospital if he became ill.

As a small group of his supporters arrived at the jail, Russian police arrested nine people outside the building.

A doctor who attempted to see him was turned away by authorities.

Before he sees a doctor of his choosing and is given proper medicine, some allies have threatened to protest at the prison in Pokrov, about 100 kilometers east of Moscow, starting on Tuesday.

His health is satisfactory, according to the prison, and he has received all requisite medical treatment.

‘I Believe he is Innocent’ Says the Author

In February, a court ruled that Mr Navalny had violated his parole for a fraud conviction in a case he claims was politically motivated, and he was sentenced to about two and a half years in prison.

“I believe he is innocent. I’m fully on his side,” said Antonina Romanova, a Navalny supporter outside the prison.

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“It happens that for some reason the people who can sort things out in the country end up in jail.”

Mr Navalny said he had a high fever and a bad cough on Monday, and that three of his wardmates had been admitted to the hospital with tuberculosis.

Navalny was transferred to a sickbay and checked for COVID-19, according to the pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia, which quoted the state prison service.

Mr Navalny’s health was not discussed by the Kremlin, but if he became sick, he would be treated like every other prisoner.

Source: ABC World News

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