Moscow – Leader of the jailed Russian oppositionOn Friday he said he decided to end his nearly three-week hunger strike after being warned by his doctors that continuing it would put his life at serious risk. The 44-year-old politician said in an Instagram post posted by his allies on the 24th day of his strike that he would end his protest by demanding independent medical treatment, having now been examined by non-prison doctors.
Navalny’s announcement followed a series of major protests, which on Wednesday drew thousands of people to the streets in dozens of cities across Russia, in support of the Kremlin critic.
According to the outspoken enemy of, on Thursday he was seen twice by civilian doctors, which he and his allies saw as significant progress towards meeting their demands.
He said he would continue to ask for his personal doctor to be allowed to examine him, after he complained of numbness in his legs and arms for weeks. It was that request to see his doctors rather than prison doctors that sparked his hunger strike.
Navalny’s trademark dark humor surfaced in his latest correspondence, in which he thanked his supporters and credited their pressure on the government for taking him to a non-prison medical facility for screening, but noted the warning from the doctors who should have stopped refusing food.
“Thanks to the tremendous support of good people across the country and around the world, we have made tremendous progress,” he said in the Instagram post. “Well, and – I will say frankly – their words showing the tests: ‘In a minimum time there will be no one to cure’ … mmm … they seem to me worthy of note.”
He said he would start the process of exiting the hunger strike, which he said would be a 24-day process.
Russian officials repeatedly denied Navalny’s doctors access to him in prison, insisting that his condition was satisfactory and that he was receiving all the medical care he needed.
Navalny was sentenced earlier this year to two and a half years in prison for violating the terms of a previous suspended sentence. He was arrested in January shortly after his return to Moscow from Berlin, where he spent five months recovering from severe poisoning with Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok.
Russian authorities have denied allegations by Navalny’s team and the United States and its allies that Putin’s government was behind the attack on the president’s main domestic opponent.