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Russia's penitentiary service on Monday said it was transferring ailing Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny to prison hospital, as the EU warned it would hold Moscow "responsible" for the state of his health.
The United States on Sunday threatened Russia with "consequences" if President Vladimir Putin's major domestic opponent—who is on hunger strike—dies in jail after Navalny's private doctors warned at the weekend he could pass away at "any minute".
Russia's prison authorities—which have barred Navalny's own medical team from visiting him—said its doctors had decided to move him to a medical facility on the premises of another penal colony outside Moscow.
But the authorities insisted the jailed anti-corruption campaigner's condition was "satisfactory", and said he was taking vitamin supplements as part of medical treatment.
Fears over Navalny's fate have added more fuel to soaring tensions between Moscow and the West over a buildup of Russian troops along the border with Ukraine and a spiraling diplomatic row with EU member state the Czech Republic.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc held the Russian authorities "responsible for the health situation of Mr Navalny" as foreign ministers from its 27 nations held virtual talks.
Borrell called his condition "very worrisome" and repeated demands that Moscow allows Navalny's chosen team of doctors to inspect him.
Lithuania's Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis pushed further, saying the bloc should prepare "a humanitarian mission" to fly him out of Russia for treatment.
"If the international community does not respond, the regime's opposition leader will be sent silently to his death," Landsbergis said.
Navalny, 44, was arrested in Russia in January after returning from a near-fatal nerve agent poisoning he says was carried out by Moscow—accusations denied by Putin's administration.
Sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for embezzlement, he began a hunger strike on March 31 demanding medical treatment for back pain and numbness to his hands and legs.
The EU in October sanctioned six Russian officials over the Novichok nerve agent attempt and in February sanctioned another four individuals over Navalny's arrest and sentencing.
France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Sunday those sanctions could be expanded.
Navalny's supporters have called for a major protest across Russia on Wednesday to demand his release, hours after a state-of-the-nation address by Putin.
The fraught ties with Russia were set to dominate the agenda as EU foreign ministers hold their regular monthly meeting.
The top diplomats were also holding talks with Kiev's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba over the major military buildup by Russia along Ukraine's borders and surge in clashes with Russian-backed separatists.
Borrell described the situation on Ukraine's frontiers as "very dangerous" and called on Moscow to withdraw its troops.
Kiev has been battling Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine since 2014 and fighting intensified early this year, effectively shredding a ceasefire agreed last July.
Faced with the largest deployment of Russian troops on Ukraine's borders since 2014, President Volodymyr Zelensky has requested more help from the West.
Lithuania's Landsbergis insisted the bloc should show it is willing to impose sanctions if Moscow covers any more "red lines".
European diplomats say that Poland is pushing for a green light to prepare a new round of sanctions targeting officials in the annexed Crimea peninsula over rights abuses.
EU foreign ministers are also set to be briefed on spiraling tensions between the Czech Republic and Russia.
Moscow on Sunday ordered out 20 Czech diplomats, a day after Prague announced it was expelling 18 Russian diplomats identified as secret agents of the SVR and GRU security services.
Czech authorities accused them of involvement in a deadly 2014 explosion on its soil at a military ammunition warehouse that killed two people.
Czech police said they were seeking two Russians in connection with the explosion and that the pair carried passports used by suspects in the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Britain in 2018.
In his column for the Daily Beast, longtime political observer David Lurie took Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) to task for trying to reshape his image from staunch business-friendly conservative to a trust-busting man-of the-people by taking on Major League Baseball for pulling the 2021 All-Star Game out of Georgia.
Hawley, whose rising political star plummeted when he tried to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election -- and was compounded when he expressed support for the Jan 6th Capitol rioters -- jumped into the Georgia fray by joining with equally controversial Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) with plans to introduce legislation to strip Major League Baseball of its anti-trust exemption.
According to Lurie -- under the headline "Josh Hawley Attempting To Be Teddy Roosevelt is Stupid and Sad" -- Hawley is trying to remake himself as a modern-day Teddy Roosevelt and the only thing they have in common is their racism.
Explaining, "Roosevelt, a Republican, was the nation's first progressive president. He used the Sherman Antitrust Act to break up railroad and other monopolies as part of his Square Deal, which had three major prongs: conserving the nation's natural resources, protecting consumers and workers, and bringing plutocratic corporate interests to heel," Lurie noted Hawley's motives are cynical at best.
"Hawley's concern with the MLB has nothing to do with promoting market competition. Rather, Hawley wants to punish the big leagues because they are trying to promote civil rights," he accused. "According to Hawley, who has never been heard objecting to large corporations funneling money into his own campaign coffers, it is 'egregious' that MLB chose to move the All-Star Game to Colorado after Republicans in Georgia pushed through a law transparently intended to suppress Democratic and minority voter turnout."
Calling Hawley move -- likely to flop -- a "sham," the columnist flayed him and stated he and his proposed legislation are a "joke."
"Hawley's trust-busting rhetoric is a joke, and should be treated as such. It is directed at serving his ideological agenda, not making markets more competitive or fair to consumers, as Teddy Roosevelt sought to do.," he wrote before concluding, "Hawley purports to offer hope to those who have been left behind economically, but his rhetoric of standing on the side of workers and the downtrodden is directly at odds with the policies he advocates. Instead of offering opportunity or real hope to people facing hardship in a changing world, Hawley offers only resentment and prejudice toward other Americans."
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On her debut on CNN's morning segment, anchor Brianna Keilar tore into Fox News for its use of partisan chyrons to push far-right narratives against President Joe Biden.
"The chyrons, those headlines you see at the bottom of your screen? They are getting noticeably more creative," said Keilar. "Fox uses them to push their conspiracy theories that Biden is essentially senile ... other Fox banners imply that Biden basically belongs in a home, and one of their main experts literally called in from his retirement home in Florida. Another is this guy, the infamous Fox doc they have on to give a quote 'virtual medical examination' then reaching the evidence-free conclusion Biden is off his rocker, pushes the theory he is the puppet of a deep state."
"Fox reliably provides the public disservice of pandemic disinformation, and sometimes it uses pictures," continued Keilar, showing a number of other Fox chyrons and graphics. "Top health officials shown in straight jackets ... one year into the pandemic, despite undeniable evidence that masks work, Fox's chief science officer, Mr. Karlsson suggests they're a national security risk with the new headline. When the new president marked one year of grief and loss, fox got impatient, saying how dare the president not wrap up before the power hour cockamamie commentary."
"Sometimes they think they are lashing out, but actually they are inadvertently telling the truth about themselves, admitting the damage they reek and the propaganda they peddle, like they're writing the autobiography of their network in thirty characters or fewer, give or take," concluded Keilar. "That Fox is not news, no matter what it calls itself."
Brianna Keilar slams Fox News for partisan chyrons www.youtube.com
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