Germany has joined calls for jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to get proper medical treatment amid growing concerns for his health.

Earlier about 500 Russian doctors signed an open letter to President Vladimir Putin demanding that prison authorities stop “abusing” Navalny.

Navalny’s lawyer said he had since been seen by a doctor, but was still not receiving the medicine he needed.

Navalny said he was being denied basic medication by prison officials.

A German government spokesperson said Navalny “is in urgent need of medical assistance as numerous Russian doctors have pointed out”.

“We call on the Russian authorities to provide this immediately and completely,” said spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann.

Navalny’s lawyer Vadim Kobzev says the anti-corruption campaigner has been suffering from chills, fever, severe cough and a low temperature in an isolation cell.

Berlin also urged Navalny’s release, saying his imprisonment was based on a “politically motivated verdict”.

He has spent two years in jail, often in solitary confinement. He was arrested in January 2021 upon returning from Germany, where he had been treated for a nerve agent attack in Siberia.

In the open letter, doctors expressed “great concerns for the life and health” of Navalny and said the refusal of Russia’s prison service to provide the necessary medicines “is directly threatening” his life.

They demanded that the authorities stop sending him to solitary confinement and that civilian doctors be allowed to see him. “We demand an end to the abuse of Alexei Navalny,” the letter said.

Vadim Kobzev said the letter appeared to have had an impact, as Navalny was given antibiotics and his condition had appeared to stop deteriorating on Thursday.

On Friday, Mr Kobzev said the head of a tuberculosis hospital had given Navalny a medical check – but he added that Navalny had not yet received the medicine he needed.

On Thursday, John Kirby, spokesman for the US National Security Council, said the US shared the doctors’ concerns and believed Navalny “should be immediately released” and should get “proper medical care”.

Navalny has accused the prison authorities of using a fellow inmate as a biological weapon to infect him with flu. He said he was transferred to a punishment cell on 31 December for the tenth time since his imprisonment.

Navalny is being held in a penal colony more than 250km (150 miles) east of Moscow. The 46-year-old has long been the most prominent face of Russian opposition to President Putin.

He was initially jailed for two and a half years for breaking bail conditions while being treated in a German hospital, but was then given an extra nine years for fraud and contempt of court.

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