Russian opposition leader Navalny hospitalized for allergic reaction

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, serving time in jail for calling for unauthorized protests, was hospitalized after suffering an acute allergic reaction on Sunday, his spokeswoman said.

FILE PHOTO: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny attends a rally in memory of politician Boris Nemtsov, who was assassinated in 2015, in Moscow, Russia February 24, 2019. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva

Navalny was jailed this week for 30 days for calling for an unauthorized march to protest against the exclusion of several opposition candidates from a local election later this year.

Authorities say the opposition candidates were barred because they failed to collect enough genuine signatures backing them, an allegation they reject as false.

Police rounded up more than 1,000 people in the Russian capital at the rally on Saturday in one of the biggest crackdowns in recent years against the opposition, drawing international criticism.

The spokeswoman of the U.S. embassy in Moscow, Andrea Kalan, wrote on Twitter on Sunday that the large number of detentions in Moscow and the “use of disproportionate police force undermine rights of citizens to participate in the democratic process”.

The Polish Foreign Ministry in a statement called on Russian authorities “to stop using force against peaceful demonstrations and to refrain from arbitrary detentions”.

OPPOSITION ACTIVIST DETAINED

Kira Yarmysh, Navalny’s spokeswoman, wrote on Twitter that he had been hospitalized on Sunday morning with “severe swelling of the face and skin redness”.

She said the cause of Navalny’s allergic reaction was unknown and that he had never suffered from such reactions in the past.

“It’s still unclear what’s wrong with him, but it looks strange,” Navalny’s lawyer, Olga Mikhailova, wrote on Facebook on Sunday evening.

She said Navalny had had “an acute allergic reaction to an unknown allergen and swelling of the face” and insisted that he had no allergies in his lifetime.

The Moscow hospital where Navalny’s spokeswoman said he was being treated could not be reached for comment.

In a separate incident on Sunday, Russian activist Dmitry Gudkov, who was among the opposition candidates barred from running in local elections this year, said he had been detained and taken to a Moscow police station.

The reason for Gudkov’s detention was not immediately clear, his spokesman Alexei Obukhov told Reuters.

Russia’s Interior Ministry did not respond to a request for comment on Navalny and Gudkov’s detention.

Obukhov said Gudkov, a former MP who challenged pro-Kremlin initiatives, had been detained as he walked out of a shop near his home, where he had been buying food for the protesters still being held.

Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition figure, has served several stints in jail in recent years for organizing anti-government demonstrations.

The European Court of Human Rights last year ruled that Russia’s arrests and detention of Navalny in 2012 and 2014 were politically motivated and breached his human rights, a ruling Moscow called questionable.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, additional reporting by Andrew Osborn in Moscow and Joanna Plucinska in Warsaw; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, Deepa Babington and Dale Hudson



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