The former coordinator of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny’s team in Russia’s second-largest city, St. Petersburg, has been detained two days before announced rallies to demand the Kremlin critic’s release from prison amid reports his health is rapidly deteriorating.
Denis Mikhailov wrote on Telegram that he was detained early on April 19 for taking part in an unsanctioned demonstration on January 31 protesting Navalny’s arrest.
If found guilty, Mikhailov could face up to 15 days in jail.
The current leader of Navalny’s team in the city, Irina Fatyanova, was sentenced to 10 days in jail on the same charge last week.
Mikhailov’s detainment came a day after Navalny’s supporters announced their plan to hold mass rallies across Russia on April 21 to demand Navalny’s immediate release.
Navalny, 44, was arrested in January on his arrival from Germany, where he was treated for a poisoning in Siberia in August with what was defined by European labs as a nerve agent. He has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering the poisoning, which the Kremlin has denied.
A Moscow court in February converted a 3 1/2-year suspended sentence on a charge that Navalny and his supporters call politically motivated to real jail time, saying he broke the terms of the original sentence by leaving Russia for Germany for the life-saving treatment he received.
The court reduced the time Navalny must spend in prison to just over 2 1/2 years because of time already served in detention.
Navalny went on a hunger strike in late March in protest of what he said was the refusal of prison authorities to allow him to receive proper medical care for acute back and leg pain just months after he recovered from the poison attack that nearly took his life.
The health of Putin’s most vocal critic has rapidly deteriorated in recent days and he could suffer cardiac arrest “any minute,” according to his personal doctor and three other physicians, including a cardiologist, who pleaded for access to Navalny in a letter to Russia’s Federal Prison Service.