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UN torture expert warns of opposition figure Alexei Navalny’s worsening health in Russian detention

10 May 2023

GENEVA (10 May 2023) – The Russian government must provide opposition politician, Alexei Navalny with urgent and comprehensive medical care in light of his gravely deteriorating health, the UN torture expert said today.

“I am distressed by the deteriorating state of Mr. Navalny’s health and the apparent lack of satisfactory diagnosis and medical treatment,” said Alice Edwards, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The UN torture expert said the alleged placement of Mr. Navalny in isolation on 11 separate occasions, amounting to 114 days in solitary confinement in harsh conditions over a seven-month period, appears disproportionate and if confirmed, would amount to a form of torture.

“Mr. Navalny is reportedly suffering from serious ill-health, including chronic spinal disease and problems related to neurological damage,” Edwards said. “He must immediately and continuously be provided with adequate care, including comprehensive medical check-ups, treatment and monitoring of his health situation in a civil hospital.”

The Special Rapporteur also raised the cases of three political supporters of Mr. Navalny who are also in Russian detention – Liliya Chanysheva, Vadim Ostanin and Daniel Kholodny.

“These cases should be promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigated,” she said. “If it is found that these individuals are being arbitrarily deprived of their liberty, they should be released without delay. In the case of Mr. Ostanin, whose health is reportedly worsening, the Russian Federation should as a matter of urgency provide adequate medical care in a civil hospital,” the expert said.

Alexei Navalny is a political opposition figure and anti-corruption activist in Russia. He was arrested in connection with a previous sentence in January 2021 when he returned to Moscow from Germany, where he had been receiving medical treatment after an apparent poisoning.

Liliya Chanysheva is the previous head of Mr. Navalny’s office in the city of Ufa. She was arrested on charges of managing a structural subdivision of an extremist community in November 2021. Vadim Ostanin, the head of the Navalny office in the city of Byisk, was arrested on similar charges in March 2022. Daniel Kholodny, an employee of Mr. Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, was arrested at the same time on charges of participation in an extremist community, and for allegedly providing or collecting money to finance an extremist organisation.

The Special Rapporteur and other experts have been in direct contact with the Government of the Russian Federation about these cases and will continue to monitor them.


Dr. Alice Jill Edwards, Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

*Endorsed by: Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right to physical and mental health; Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial summary or arbitrary executions; Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Margaret Satterthwaite,  Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent of any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Russian Federation

For more information and media requests, please contact: Alessandro Marra (+41 22 928 93 21/ [email protected]).

For media enquiries regarding other UN independent experts, please contact Maya Derouaz ([email protected]) or Dharisha Indraguptha ([email protected])

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter  @UN_SPExperts

Follow news related to the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment on Twitter  @DrAliceJEdwards

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