Vladimir Putin Faces Mass Protest in Russia as Alexei Navalny Doctor Blasts 'Hospital' Move

Russia President Vladimir Putin faces the prospect of more street demonstrations after Alexei Navalny's deputies called for mass protests and the jailed opposition leader's doctor criticized officials for moving Nalavny to an inadequate medical facility.

Jailed opposition leader Navalny, 44, has been on hunger strike for 20 days (since March 31) after complaining that his medical team were not allowed to visit him in prison.

Doctors warned over the weekend that he could suffer cardiac arrest "at any minute" due to his deteriorating health and requires urgent medical attention for acute back pain and leg numbness.

In a video posted on the activist's Youtube channel on Sunday, Navalny's deputies—Leonid Volkov and Ivan Zhdanov said Navalny's health had deteriorated so acutely that a mass protests were the only way forward. Volkov implored citizens to gather at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in squares across Russia.

"Have you ever seen with your own eyes how a person is murdered? You're seeing it right now," Volkov said.

"If we don't speak up now, the darkest times for free people are at hand. Russia will descend into total hopelessness," he added.

On Monday, Russia's prison authority has decided to transfer the Kremlin critic to a hospital for prisoners, following increased pressure from Western nations, including the U.S, Britain, France and the European Union.

Navalny's personal doctor, Anastasia Vasilyeva, hit back shortly after the announcement, saying the new facility could not "can diagnose and prescribe treatment for his problems."

Vasilyeva tweeted on Monday: "Alexey was not transferred to the hospital - he was transferred to another colony - to IK-3, to a prison where TUBERCULOSIS is being treated!" she said on Twitter. "This is not a hospital at all, where they can diagnose and prescribe treatment for his problems. We urgently demand to hold a consultation and admit us, his attending physicians, to it."

Protests have been planned for Wednesday in order to coincide with Putin's annual state-of-the-nation address.

On Sunday, Navalny's daughter, Dasha, pleaded for her father to be given the care he needs. "Allow a doctor to see my dad," she tweeted.

Why is Navalny in prison?

Russian authorities moved to further crack down on Navalny and opposition supporters, with the country's prosecutor's office planning to designate the activist's FBK anti-corruption foundation and his regional headquarters as extremist organisations. The move will allow authorities to jail Navalny's colleagues as "terrorists" for up to six years.

Navalny was arrested at Moscow airport in January after returning from Berlin following an assassination attempt. He alleges that a secret unit from Russia's FSB spy agency poisoned him last summer with novichock nerve agent while he was on a trip to Siberia. The Kremlin denies the accusations.

Navalny's arrest triggered a massive wave of protests all across Russia, the biggest show of defiance in recent years.

A court ordered Navalny to serve2 1/2 years in prison on a 2014 embezzlement conviction he said was fabricated and the European Court of Human Rights deemed to be "arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable." Last month, the politician was transferred to a penal colony east of Moscow, notorious for its harsh conditions.

Navalny protests in Moscow
Participants of an unauthorized protest rally against of jailing of oppositon leader Alexei Navalny shout, on January 23, 2021 in Moscow, Russia. Allies Alexei Navalny have called for more mass protests, after doctors warned over the weekend that the activist could suffer as cardiac arrest “at any minute” as his health is rapidly deteriorating. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty