MOSCOW, April 23 (Reuters) – Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny said Friday he will gradually begin to end a hunger strike he declared in prison on March 31 for requiring adequate medical treatment for pain in his legs and back.
In an Instagram post, President Vladimir Putin’s fierce critic said he was still asking to be seen by a doctor of his choice and that he was losing sensation in parts of his legs and arms.
He said, however, that he had been seen twice by civilian doctors. He added that it would take him 24 days to gradually end the hunger strike and thanked the “good people” in Russia and around the world for their support.
“Thank you – now I have been examined twice by a jury of civilian doctors. The last time was just before the demonstration. They are doing tests and analyzes and giving me the results and conclusions,” he wrote.
“I am not withdrawing my request to allow the necessary doctor to see me – I am losing sensation in the areas of my arms and legs, and I want to understand what it is and how to treat it, but considering the progress and all the circumstances, I am starting to get out of the hunger strike, “he wrote.
Navalny is the main target of the opposition to Putin, and his poor health after three weeks of hunger strike had attracted expressions of alarm from Western governments. On Wednesday, thousands of his supporters protested in cities across Russia.
The United States had warned Moscow that it would face “consequences” if he died.
Navalny survived a nerve agent poisoning attack last year, which Russia denied carrying out. (Reporting by Andrew Osborn; screenplay by Tom Balmforth; editing by Andrew Osborn and Mark Trevelyan)