Russian’s Navalny to end prison hunger strike

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FILE – In this Feb. 16, 2021, file photo taken from footage provided by the Babuskinsky District Court, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny gestures during a court hearing in Moscow, Russia. Several doctors were prevented Tuesday, April 20, from seeing Navalny in a prison hospital after his three-week hunger strike, and prosecutors also detailed a sweeping, new case against his organization. (Babuskinsky District Court Press Service via AP, File)

MOSCOW (AP) — Imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny says he is ending his hunger strike after getting medical attention and being warned by his doctors that continuing it would be life-threatening.

In an Instagram post on Friday afternoon, the 24th day of his hunger strike, Navalny said he will continue to demand a visit from his doctor to address a loss of sensation in his legs and arms – the main demand the politician announced when launched his hunger strike.

But he said he would stop refusing food after getting examined by non-prison doctors.

“Thanks to the huge support of good people across the country and around the world, we have made huge progress,” Navalny said in his message.

The 44-year-old politician, who was arrested earlier this year and is serving a 2 ½-year sentence, began the hunger strike on March 31 to protest prison authorities’ refusal to let his doctors visit after he developed severe back pain and numbness in his legs.

Officials insisted Navalny was getting all the medical help he needs, but Navalny said he received effectively no treatment.

On Wednesday night, another round of mass protests demanding his freedom swept across Russia. A top aide said Wednesday night’s protests seemed to have brought a compromise from Russian authorities on getting Navalny the medical help he had demanded when launching the hunger strike.

Navalny, who is President Vladimir Putin’s most well-known critic, was arrested in January upon his return from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from a nerve agent poisoning he blames on the Kremlin — accusations that Russian officials reject.

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