The winners of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize have called on the Red Cross to “interfere” in the fate of jailed Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny, who has reported harsh conditions in prison for minor infractions.
Navalny, 46, is serving a nine-year sentence that his supporters dismiss as politically motivated. He has denounced his regular placement in “cramped cells” and the deprivation of family visits, calling his treatment an attempt to silence his continued activism from behind bars.
More recently, Navalny’s supporters have sounded the alarm over his deteriorating health and prison doctors’ refusal to treat him.
Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov and his Philippine colleague Maria Ressa appealed to the International Committee of the Red Cross in an open letter to act on its mission to “prevent and alleviate human suffering.”
“As long as the torment [of Navalny] continues, we’re all accomplices of the executioners,” they wrote in an open letter published on the website of Muratov’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper.
“We’re convinced that independent humanitarian organizations should interfere in the fate of Alexei Navalny,” the publication said.
But a Red Cross representative told one of the letter’s co-authors that the humanitarian organization “has no mandate for such actions,” according to Novaya Gazeta.
Muratov and Ressa won the Nobel Peace Prize in late 2021 for their “efforts to safeguard freedom of expression” in their respective countries, which have both seen crackdowns on independent media.