Hunger-Striking Russian Opposition Activist Hospitalized While Serving Jail Term

The jailed leader of Russia's opposition Levy Front (Left Front) movement, Sergei Udaltsov, has been hospitalized, observers and his social media channels say.

Udaltsov was taken to a Moscow hospital suffering from "dehydration" on August 19, five days into a hunger strike, a post on his Twitter account said on August 19.

Ivan Melnikov of the Public Monitoring Commission NGO in Moscow told the TASS news agency that Udaltsov was hospitalized on "doctors’ orders."

"In our presence he was evacuated by paramedics," Melnikov added.

Udaltsov was active in protests last month against the government's proposal to raise the retirement age.

A court in Moscow on August 14 found him guilty of repeatedly violating public gathering regulations, and sentenced him to 30 days in jail.

Two days later, a post on his Twitter account said Udaltsov had started a "dry hunger strike," meaning he was refusing both food and water.

Tens of thousands of Russians rallied across the country on July 28 against legislation now under consideration by lawmakers to raise the retirement age to 63 for women by 2034 and to 65 for men by 2028.

Udaltsov was one of the organizers of rallies in Moscow, where thousands protested against the proposed reforms.

President Vladimir Putin's public approval ratings have slipped noticeably since the plan was announced in June, sparking outrage across Russia.

Udaltsov, a prominent Russian opposition activist, was released from prison in August 2017 after serving 41/2-year prison sentence he received over a May 2012 protest against Putin and the Russian government.

In that case, Udaltsov was convicted of organizing "mass disorder" after the 2012 protest descended into violence.

Demonstrators and police blame each other for the violence.

With reporting by AFP