Russian opponent Alexei Navalny announces the end of his hunger strike after 24 days

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The imprisoned Russian opponent Alexeï Navalny announced on Friday that he would end his hunger strike, which he had been observing for three weeks, to denounce his conditions of detention, raising concerns for his health and Russian-Western tensions.

The day before, doctors close to the Kremlin critic, including his personal doctor, had urged him to end his hunger strike “immediately”, saying they feared his death or “considerable damage” to his health. “I’m starting to end my hunger strike,” the 44-year-old opponent wrote, in a message posted on his Instagram account.

Alexeï Navalny had stopped eating 24 days ago, on March 31, accusing the prison administration of depriving him of access to a doctor while he suffers from a double herniated disc, according to his lawyers. The anti-corruption activist and most famous opponent of the Kremlin also complained, before his hunger strike, of a loss of sensitivity in the legs and hands which he said could be a consequence of the poisoning he suffered. was a victim last summer and of which he accuses the Kremlin.

Also read: Alexeï Navalny, itinerary of a tenacious opponent

According to him, his jailers also tortured him with sleep deprivation, waking him up every hour during the night.

“Huge support”

One of his close associates, Leonid Volkov, speaking Thursday evening on social networks, announced that Alexeï Navalny had finally been examined this week in a civilian hospital and that his medical file was transmitted to his doctors. “The doctors in whom I fully believe yesterday announced that we had achieved enough for me to end my hunger strike,” Alexei Navalny wrote on Friday.

“With the tremendous support of good people across the country and abroad, we have made great strides. Two months ago we laughed at my requests for medical assistance, ”added the opponent. However, he still claims that a doctor establishes the reasons for his loss of sensitivity in the limbs: “I want to understand what it is and how it is treated”.

Thursday, five doctors, including his personal doctor Anastassia Vassilieva, asked, after having access to his file, that he feeds because of “symptoms of renal failure, severe neurological symptoms and severe hyponatremia. ”Which, according to them, could lead to serious consequences.

More than 1900 arrests

According to Alexeï Navalny’s camp, he was finally able to see doctors outside the prison system thanks to the pressure exerted on the power by the demonstrations of his supporters which brought together thousands of people on Wednesday evening. The same day Vladimir Poutine delivered his annual speech to the Nation.

These gatherings, smaller than in January at the time of his arrest, were also less brutally repressed, even though they resulted in more than 1,900 arrests.

The Navalny affair has fueled in recent months a resurgence of Russian-Western tensions, Washington and the EU denouncing both its poisoning, Moscow’s refusal to investigate it, his imprisonment, then his treatment in prison.

The West also threatened Russia with consequences if the opponent died in prison. Moscow has rejected all of these criticisms. The power of Vladimir Poutine “still reacts to internal and external pressures”, welcomed Thursday Leonid Volkov.

Read also: Vladimir Putin’s “red lines”

Alexeï Navalny was arrested as soon as he returned from Germany in January, after five months of convalescence to recover from his poisoning with the nerve agent Novichok. At the end of February, he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for a fraud case dating back to 2014, which he denounces as a politician.

The opponent was then transferred to a prison camp in the Vladimir region, about 100 kilometers from Moscow.