Navalny's Russian imprisonment is worsening: ally

STORY: Alexei Navalny, the jailed Russian opposition politician who survived what Western lab tests say was an almost fatal poisoning attempt, has recently had his prison conditions significantly worsen.

And it comes as his Anti-Corruption Foundation hopes to turn upcoming Moscow elections into a vote against the Ukraine war.

That's according to to a close ally of Navalny, who is serving 11-1/2 years in prison for parole violations, fraud, and contempt of court - charges that he denies.

The ally, his chief of staff, Leonid Volkov, met Reuters in Lithuania where most of Navalny's organization has relocated since it was banned in Russia.

"Now, suddenly, three weeks ago, they started to dramatically worsen his condition, which actually poses an enormous threat to his health, because, no normal person could spend a long time in this special cell. It's just very dangerous for everyone's health. And for Alexei’s, who just survived the poisoning, it's, of course, especially dangerous. This comes from Kremlin. So definitely Putin has some plan. He kind of like wants to make life unbearable for Alexei Navalny. He wants to punish him more."

"Putin is losing support for his war. Putin is losing popularity, which makes it more and more complicated to him to continue his operation.”

"Our strategy concentrates on voters, not on candidates. Our real goal is to demonstrate that in Moscow there are very many voters that are against Putin and against this war, and we will make it visible by organizing them through our grassroots campaign to vote for those anti-war candidates. So, we will make their voice clear, will amplify their political message."

The Kremlin and President Putin say Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine is going according to plan.

Volkov says Navalny has been moved into a punishment prison cell measuring two by three meters -- his third time since August. It has a table, chair, and a bed, he says, but the bed is folded between 6 in the morning and 10 at night.

Neither the Kremlin nor the prison service immediately responded to Reuters requests for comment on Navalny, and Reuters cannot verify Volkov's allegations.