Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said Tuesday he was suing prison officials for denying him access to the Muslim holy book, the Koran, in his penal colony outside Moscow.
Navalny, who is serving a two-and-a-half year sentence on old embezzlement charges, was jailed in February after returning to Russia from Germany where he was receiving treatment for a poisoning attack.
Russia’s most prominent opposition figure announced a hunger strike two weeks ago to demand adequate medical treatment and his allies said this week that authorities had threatened to force feed him.
Navalny said he was taking legal action against prison authorities because “they won’t give me my Koran. And it’s infuriating.”
Navalny, 44, came under fire early in his political career for making nationalistic comments and deriding immigrants in Russia from predominantly Muslim countries in Central Asia.
In his Instagram post Tuesday, Navalny said he had read the Koran before but had not internalised its core tenets.
“I realised that my development as a Christian also requires studying the Koran,” he wrote.
Navalny’s lawyers and allies are demanding that he be transferred to a regular hospital. The Kremlin has said that Navalny is not entitled to any special treatment.
Navalny has been a thorn in the Kremlin’s side for a decade by probing corruption among officials and leading large protests throughout Russia.