Questions swirled on Wednesday about the health of Russia’s most famous political prisoner, Aleksei A. Navalny, after his wife publicly urged prison officials to provide her ailing husband with medicine.
Taking to Instagram, Yulia Navalnaya, said her husband’s condition was worsening in the punishment cell into which he was once again placed as 2022 was drawing to an end.
“Imagine that you are shut in a cage measuring 2 by 3 meters,” Ms. Navalnaya wrote. “That they place a person with you who is already sick, so that your cold grows stronger, and so that the flu is added on top of your cold. That they get you up at 6 a.m. and they keep you from lying down all day, even though you have a high temperature.”
Her plea came a day after more than 200 Russian doctors, in a rare public display of dissent, sent a petition to President Vladimir V. Putin imploring him to “stop abusing” Mr. Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition politician.
In the past, Mr. Navalny’s unrelenting criticism of Mr. Putin inspired large crowds of Russian protesters to take to the streets, and millions of people have viewed investigative reports about Russian corruption that his group has posted on YouTube, embarrassing the president and his allies. He has been repeatedly jailed, which analysts interpreted as the Kremlin’s way of keeping Mr. Navalny out of national elections.
In August 2020, Mr. Navalny was the target of an assassination attempt that Western officials attributed to Russia, and he was taken to Germany for treatment. On his return to Russia in early 2021, Mr. Navalny was arrested and accused of violating the terms of an earlier parole. He was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.
Mr. Navalny has continued to speak out even from prison, and in March, as a wartime Kremlin imposed strict limits on public expression, he was returned to court and resentenced to nine years in a high-security prison.
Mr. Navalny’s health has deteriorated in the harsh conditions of imprisonment. In late December, posting on Twitter, Mr. Navalny said he believed that Russian officials were intentionally endangering his health to bend to their will. He said they had refused to provide him with his medical records.
Not long later, he had more news for his followers, delivered with his customary irony.
“I did manage to earn my tenth term in the punishment cell in the last year after all,” he wrote. “My prison goons actually bothered enough to convene their commission on the weekend of December 31 especially for me.”
HIs infraction, he said: Washing his face one morning 36 minutes earlier than he was authorized to do.
“Thus my plans for a fancy New Year were ruined,” Mr. Navalny wrote. “I had saved a packet of potato chips and a can of saury” — a type of fish — “for it.”
Ms. Navalnaya said Wednesday that she expected that her husband would recover from his latest illness. But she took aim at any skeptics tempted to minimize his condition.
“Aleksei caught a cold,” she said. “You’ll say: What nonsense, everyone catches a cold, and I agree with you. There is only one small difference.
“You are lying at home with a temperature, your relatives bring you medicine, hot tea, they worry over you. Even if you’re at home with a temperature alone, you can lay in bed all day, and order yourself medicine from the internet. In a week you’ll feel fit as a fiddle.”