Navalny taken to hospital as fears for his life grow

Alexei Navalny has been in prison since January

Moscow retaliated with sanctions against the United States, and has rejected what it sees as foreign interference in the Navalny case. He said he had been searched for two hours on arrival at the penal colony.

Mr. Navalny, 44, was arrested in Russian Federation in January after returning from treatment in Germany for a near-fatal nerve agent poisoning he says was carried out by Moscow - accusations denied by Mr. Putin's administration.

On Sunday, Navalny's team said a nationwide protest was planned for Wednesday to highlight his plight.

Russia's Interior Ministry on Monday issued a statement urging Russians not to take part in unauthorized rallies, citing coronavirus risks and alleging that some "destructive-minded" participants might provoke unrest.

Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner who has catalogued the vast wealth accumulated by senior Russian officials he brands "swindlers and thieves", is serving a 2-1/2 year sentence on old embezzlement charges he calls trumped up. He and Western governments called this an attempted assassination.

On March 31, he began a hunger strike to protest what he says is the prison's refusal to treat him for leg and back pain, which he believes could be linked to his poisoning.

Earlier this month, the U.S. slapped new sanctions on 32 Russian entities and individuals over allegations of their interference in the 2020 United States presidential elections and the purported hacking of USA software supply chain networks.

The US has warned Moscow of serious repercussions if he should die in jail.

In recent years, Mr. Navalny, through brilliant combination of investigative technique, video production and social media savvy, became the leading voice criticizing Mr. Putin, documenting how the onetime KGB officer in the Kremlin became mega-rich.

"The health of convicts in the Russia Federation can not and should not be a topic concerning them", said Mr. Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Borrell said that more than 150,000 Russian troops were now massed along Ukraine's borders and in the annexed Crimea peninsula.

"I believe it is important for me to speak directly with my new colleagues in the Biden administration in Washington about the current state of bilateral relations between the United States and Russia", Sullivan said in a statement on the website of the US embassy.

National security adviser Sullivan and his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev spoke by phone on Monday, touching on the possibility of a summit that Biden has proposed to Putin.

The rising tensions between the former Soviet republics come against the background of a war of words between Moscow and Washington as US President Joe Biden seeks a tougher line against Putin. That comment prompted the recall by Moscow of the Russian ambassador to Washington for consultations last month.

The arms depot explosions in October and December 2014 came as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation considered transferring Czech arms to Ukraine to help it fight Russian-backed separatists.

Czech authorities accused them of involvement in a deadly 2014 explosion on its soil at a military ammunition warehouse that killed two people.

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