Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny ends prison hunger strike
Jailed opposition politician Alexey Navalny has announced that he’s ending his hunger strike.
In a post published on his Instagram account, Navalny said that in recent weeks, “thanks to the huge support of good people across the country and around the world,” he was able to obtain two medical examinations by a panel of civilian doctors. He also added that he was given the results and findings from his medical tests.
Navalny said that a letter from his private doctors urging him to end his hunger strike influenced his decision.
“Doctors, whom I fully trust, issued a statement yesterday about the fact that we had achieved enough for me to end my hunger strike. And — I’ll be frank — their words about the fact that the tests show [that] “after a minimal [amount] of time there will be no one to treat” seem worthy of attention to me.”
In addition, he explained that the fact that a number of other people have gone on hunger strike in solidarity with him was another impetus for ending his protest.
“Friends, my heart is full of love and gratitude for you, but I don’t want anyone to experience physical suffering because of me. I’m not withdrawing my demand to admit the necessary doctors to see me — I’m losing sensitivity in my arms and legs, and I want to understand what this is and how to treat it, but taking into account the progress and all of the circumstances, I’m beginning to end my hunger strike. According to the rules, this will also take 24 days and they say it’s even harder.”
Update. Later in the day on Friday, Novaya Gazeta published an appeal from Navalny’s private doctors, calling for him to be transferred to a civilian hospital in Moscow. They’re also calling for convening a panel of medical experts, including Western specialists. Navalny’s doctors claim that the opposition politician isn’t being provided with adequate pain relief, which “violates all standards and ethical principles.” The doctors also noted that Navalny has yet to receive a complete diagnosis. At the same time, they underscored that the variety of tests he has undergone seem to indicate that his life could be at risk.
Alexey Navalny had been on hunger strike since March 31, demanding access to trusted doctors. He has complained about pain in his back and numbness in his legs for several weeks. Russian prison officials have maintained that the opposition politician is receiving all necessary medical treatment. Navalny was transferred to a prisoners’ hospital on April 18.
After Navalny announced his prison hunger strike, a public solidarity campaign was launched demanding that he be provided with adequate medical treatment. A number of Russian and international public figures, politicians, cultural figures, and academics expressed their support for him.
Rallies in support of Navalny took place in dozens of Russian cities on April 21. Law enforcement officers arrested more than 1,800 people amid the demonstrations.