Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said Friday he will end his hunger strike upon receiving medical attention and his doctors’ warning that his life was at risk.
In a message on Instagram on the 24th day of his hunger strike, Navalny said he will continue to demand a visit from his doctor due to the loss of sensation in his arms and legs, his main complaint in initiating the measure, but said he decided to desist from the strike after he was examined by non-prison doctors, something he considered a huge breakthrough.
Thanks to the great support of good people all over the country and the world, we have made a huge breakthrough, Navalny said in his message. Two months ago, my requests for medical assistance provoked derisive smiles. I was not given medicines… Thanks to you, I have been examined twice by a board of civilian doctors.
Navalny said he will begin to leave the hunger strike on Friday and that the process of ending it will take 24 days.
The 44-year-old politician, arrested months ago to serve a two-and-a-half-year sentence, began the strike on March 31 in protest because prison authorities refused to allow visits from his doctors when he began suffering from severe back pain and numbness in his legs.
Authorities said Navalny was receiving all necessary medical care, but he said he was not actually receiving any treatment.
Mass mobilizations took place across Russia on Wednesday to demand his freedom. One of his aides said the protests apparently won from the authorities a commitment to give him the medical care he demanded when he began the hunger strike.
Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic, was arrested in January upon his return from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from poisoning with a nerve agent that he blames on the Kremlin. Russian authorities reject the accusation.