Six doctors from the Navalny-backed Alliance of Doctors were arrested in front of the Pokrov prison where Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is being held.
Anastasiya Vasilyeva, Navalny’s personal physician, is among those arrested, as are two CNN correspondents.
It was unclear why all of the prisoners were being held.
The prison colony IK-2, located 85 kilometers east of Moscow in Pokrov in the Vladimir region, stands out among Russian prisons for its especially strict regime.
Allies of Kremlin critic Mr Navalny, 44, said on Friday that unless he is treated by a doctor of his choosing and given proper medication, they will stage a rolling protest outside his prison this week.
After Mr Navalny said he was maintaining his hunger strike despite a high fever and a bad cough, and three inmates in his ward had been hospitalized with tuberculosis, his allies said the protest would go ahead late Monday.
Dr Vasilyeva tried to see Mr Navalny earlier on Tuesday but was refused access to the prison grounds.
She said she had requested a meeting with the prison’s director, but that the security in front of the prison prevented her from meeting Mr Navalny or the local medical staff.
“The policemen said that I have no possibility now to visit the chief of this prison. I don’t know why,” she said.
“All our peaceful actions don’t work. It feels like they want to kill Alexei,” Dr Vasilyeva said as she was led away.
Police said they had taken nine people into custody for breaking the law.
The prison’s security was beefed up early Tuesday, with a parking lot closed to all but prison personnel, a temporary checkpoint set up, and the road blocked.
“It is now under a special (security) regime,” a policewoman told Reuters.
Mr Navalny, one of President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal opponents, has complained of extreme back and leg pain, accusing authorities of denying him access to his favorite doctor and refusing to provide him with the proper care for a condition that he has darkly joked could result in him losing both legs.
He was detained in January after returning from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning he blamed on the Kremlin. The allegation has been dismissed by Russian authorities.
His health is adequate, according to prison officials, and he has received all required medical care, but no incarcerated person can expect special treatment.
Source: ABC World News