Moscow, Apr 23 (EFE).- Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny announced Friday that he is ending a hunger strike to demand better medical treatment after 24 days.
The prominent critic of president Vladimir Putin started refusing food in prison on March 31 to demand to be treated by his own private doctors, who have urged him to resume taking food to survive.
“In view of the progress made and all the circumstances, I am beginning to abandon the hunger strike,” Navalny said in a statement posted to his Instagram account. He added that the process would take another 24 days.
Navalny’s health deteriorated while serving a sentence of 3.5 years in prison for fraud and money laundering offences, although he will serve only 2.5 years as he spent 10 months under house arrest.
In his statement, the opposition leader claimed that, thanks to the “tremendous support of good people all over the country and all over the world,” he has twice managed to get himself examined by outside doctors, most recently just before the massive nationwide marches his team called on Wednesday in more than a hundred Russian cities.
Tens of thousands of people attended those demonstrations.
On Tuesday, Russian authorities bowed to international and domestic pressure by transferring Navalny to a civilian hospital.
Prior to that, Moscow had only agreed to admit him to a penitentiary hospital near the prison where he is serving a two-and-a-half-year jail sentence for an old criminal case to receive serum and vitamin therapy.
In their statement, the doctors said that continuing with the hunger strike would “cause noticeable damage to Navalny’s health and lead to the saddest outcome — death.”
The imprisonment of the opposition leader, who almost died after he was poisoned during a flight to Serbia in August, sparked massive protests across the country in late January, during which thousands of people were detained.
Navalny accuses Russian President Vladimir Putin of having ordered the FSB domestic intelligence service to assassinate him. EFE