Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny takes part in a demonstration to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov and to protest proposed changes to the country’s constitution, in Moscow, Russia, on February 29. 2020.
Shamil Zhumatov | Reuters
Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny said on Friday he would begin to end the hunger strike that began on March 31.
Via his Instagram account, Navalny said it would take him 24 days to gradually end the strike, but said he was still asking to see a doctor of his choice. He also thanked the “good people” of Russia and around the world for their support, according to a translation by Reuters.
Navalny, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critics in recent years, was transferred to a prison hospital on April 19, three weeks after a hunger strike. He protested his treatment in prison, saying he was denied urgent medical attention.
Russian authorities had previously claimed that they offered Navalny adequate medical care, but continued to refuse it. The prison had refused to allow a doctor of Navalny’s choice from outside the facility to administer his treatment.
A Russian court in February sentenced Navalny to more than two years in prison for parole violations, charges he said were politically motivated.
Over the weekend, the 44-year-old activist’s doctors warned that Navalny was in danger of heart attack or kidney failure. Doctors were unable to visit Navalny in prison, but said medical tests provided by Navalny’s family showed he was seriously ill and “could die at any time.”
Last summer, Navalny was clinically evacuated to Germany from a Russian hospital after being poisoned by a chemical nerve agent. The German government said toxicology reports showed “unambiguous evidence” that Navalny was exposed to a nerve agent that was in Novichok’s family, which was developed by the Soviet Union. The toxicological tests conducted in France and Sweden also came to the same conclusion.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied having a role in Navalny’s poisoning.
After spending nearly six months recovering in Germany, Navalny flew to Russia from Berlin earlier this year. He was arrested at passport control.
In March, the United States sanctioned seven members of the Russian government for allegedly poisoning and subsequent detention of Navalny. The sanctions were the first to hit Moscow under the leadership of US President Joe Biden. The Trump administration has not taken action against Russia over the Navalny situation.
—Amanda Macias of CNBC contributed to this report.