Navalny ends hunger strike after gaining access to civilian medics

Alexei Navalny, the most prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said on Friday he would end a 24-day hunger strike after being allowed to see civilian medics and his supporters staged protests in his support .

In a letter his team posted to Instagram on Friday, the jailed opposition leader said he had “made tremendous progress” since first complaining of severe back pain and two months ago – even if the prison authorities did not give in to his requests to leave him. see a doctor of their choice.

Navalny’s hunger strike, who his allies said left his life “Hanging on a thread”, had become a point of friction in Russia’s geopolitical stalemate with the United States, which swore “consequences” for Moscow if he died in prison.

His personal doctors had warned that he could die within days from high levels of creatine that can lead to kidney failure, as well as potentially fatal levels of potassium that can cause cardiac arrest “at any time.”

Dozens of Western celebrities, from Nobel laureate JM Coetzee to Star Wars director JJ Abrams, signed a letter to Putin calling for his release, while police arrested nearly 2,000 people who demonstrated in over 100 cities. across Russia on Wednesday.

In recent days, however, the Kremlin has appeared to signal its willingness to defuse tensions after it has started to calm down. military reinforcement at the Ukrainian border, took an unusually light touch in police protests in Moscow and let Navalny see medics for the two herniated discs on his back.

Navalny had said that the prison’s refusal to treat him with anything other than ibuprofen and its policy of waking him every hour every night amounted to “torture”.

“Two months ago, they chuckled at my requests for medical help, didn’t give me any medicine, and didn’t want to send me. A month ago, they laughed in my face when I said things like “May I know what my diagnosis is?” and “Can I see my own medical records?” Navalny wrote.

Navalny had said he would remain on a hunger strike until he could see doctors of his choice, who regularly requested admission to his prison outside Moscow to no avail. But since going on a hunger strike, Navalny said he was treated by two civilian doctors, most recently “just before the protest” by his supporters. He also noted that several people had started a hunger strike in solidarity with him.

“Doctors whom I fully trust yesterday issued a statement that you and I did enough to end the hunger strike,” he wrote.

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