Russia rejects ‘provocative’ calls for nationwide pro-Navalny protests

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The Kremlin said on Monday it did not accept what it called provocative calls for nationwide protests in support of jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny, whose health has gravely deteriorated while on hunger strike in prison.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said unauthorized rallies in support of Navalny would be considered illegal by the authorities.

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Russian police warned supporters of the jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny against participating in large demonstrations called by the opposition in 39 cities on Wednesday.

Navalny’s allies have announced plans for what they hope will be the largest protests in modern Russian history on Wednesday. The United States has warned Russia it will pay a price if he dies in jail from his hunger strike.

“Units of the Russian interior ministry and other law enforcement agencies will not allow for any destabilization of the situation and will take all necessary measures to maintain law and order in the regions of the country,” a statement said.

Peskov, who said he did not have any information regarding Navalny’s health condition, added that President Vladimir Putin could not take any action to monitor the health of Russian prisoners.

Navalny, 44, started refusing food on March 31 in protest at what he said was the refusal of prison authorities to provide him with adequate medical care for acute leg and back pain.

Russia’s prison authority said on Monday it had decided to transfer him to a hospital for prisoners.

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