Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s doctors prevented from seeing him in prison hospital

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Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered his annual State of the Union address on Wednesday (21 April), presenting a narrative according to which the West was playing a unsafe and hostile game against his country, which had no other choice but to defend itself.

Navalny was transferred on Sunday from a penal colony east of Moscow to a prison hospital in Vladimir, a city 180 kilometres east of the capital, after his lawyers and associates said his condition had dramatically worsened.

OVD-Info, a group that monitors protests and detentions, said that almost 300 people had been detained over the rallies in dozens of different places.

State human rights commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova said Thursday that Navalny's detention conditions and medical support comply with Russian law and global standards.

Navalny said he is not withdrawing his demand for doctors of his choosing to treat him.

Putin gave his annual state-of-the-nation address amid tensions with the West and national protests in support of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Police yanked Navalny ally Lyubov Sobol out of a taxi near Navalny's main offices in Moscow on Wednesday and detained her, Sobol's lawyer said.

Another legal representative of Navalny, Vadim Kobzev, said that the dissident has so far received only one glucose injection since Sunday at the hospital unit, which is meant to treat those suffering from tuberculosis.

In St. Petersburg, the State University of Aerospace Instrumentation posted a notice warning that students participating in unauthorized demonstrations could be expelled.

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Navalny was detained when he returned to Russian Federation in January after months recovering in Germany from a near-fatal poisoning he blames on the Kremlin - an accusation it rejects.

In February, a Moscow court ordered him to serve two-and-a-half years in prison on a 2014 embezzlement conviction that the European Court of Human Rights deemed to be "arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable".

Thousands of people took to the streets across Russian Federation on Wednesday evening, demanding freedom and proper medical attention for Navalny, who has been hunger strike for three weeks in a detention centre outside Moscow.

Officials insisted Navalny was getting all the medical help he needs, but Navalny said he received effectively no treatment.

His attorneys previously said Navalny, 44, has two herniated discs that have caused extreme back pain and numbness in his leg and hands. Prison officials rebuffed attempts by his doctors to visit him there.

The West has demanded Navalny's release and U.S. President Joe Biden's White House said on Monday that the Russian government would be held to account for his fate and that he must be treated humanely.

Hundreds were jailed after the January demonstrations and Navalny allies were slapped with criminal charges for allegedly violating coronavirus restrictions. On Friday, state prosecutors in Moscow said they wanted to label his regional groups and anti-corruption foundation "extremist", a move that would essentially outlaw their activity.

Le Drian nevertheless said France and Russian Federation "must continue talking to each other, [Putin] is our neighbor, he is quite cumbersome but he is here". Work was underway on other "most modern combat systems, including Poseidon, Petrel and other systems".

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