MOSCOW — Aleksei A. Navalny, the imprisoned Russian opposition leader, has been denied visits from his doctors and lawyers.
But one unlikely visitor to the notoriously harsh penal colony where he is being held did turn up this week: Maria Butina, the only Russian to serve prison time in the United States in relation to investigations of Russian political influence operations during and after the 2016 election. She now works for RT, a pro-Kremlin television channel.
According to social media posts by Ms. Butina and supporters of Mr. Navalny, the two had a face-to-face encounter that appeared to have been punctuated by mutual insults. There has been no video or other photographic corroboration of such an encounter, and as of Friday RT had not published a story about it.
In 2018, Ms. Butina pleaded guilty in the United States to one charge of conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent, sometimes called “espionage light.” Prosecutors accused Ms. Butina of having befriended Republican Party politicians and leaders in the National Rifle Association while sending reports back to Russia. She served most of her 18-month sentence and then was deported.
declared a hunger strike until he is allowed a visit with a specialist doctor.
The response triggered Ms. Butina’s taunting commentary online that was then delivered in person at the prison.
“A new approach for Navalny, a hunger strike,” Ms. Butina wrote on Telegram, the messaging service, on Wednesday. “It’s as old as the world.”