After 24 days of refusing food in prison, Russia’s leading opposition figure Alexei Navalny has declared the end of his hunger strike.
His private physicians had urged him to eat to save his life and health just hours before.
On March 31, Navalny started rejecting food to demand better medical care.
“Given the progress and circumstances, I am ending my hunger strike,” he said, adding that he had been seen by civilian doctors twice.
In an Instagram message, he added that the transition would be incremental.
His doctors had warned him that he could die “at any minute.” They told him late Thursday that “further starvation” could seriously hurt him and lead to death.
He was arrested as soon as he returned to Russia in January after seeking treatment in Berlin for a nerve-gas attack that left him in a coma and struggled for Siberia’s life. Russian authorities denied responsibility for the attack, but Navalny duped an FSB investigator into admitting that a Novichok agent had been implanted in his underpants last December.
Navalny was sentenced to a penal colony in February after a court found that he had violated the terms of a suspended prison sentence while being in a coma. Russia has dismissed a European Court of Human Rights decision to be released because his life is in danger.
On Wednesday, thousands of Navalny supporters took to the streets of Russian cities, with over 1,700 being arrested.
Navalny has complained of numbness and back pain, claiming that prison doctors had failed to treat him properly.
Navalny said in a tweet from the Vladimir penal colony, east of Moscow, that he was still willing to see a doctor of his choosing.
“I am losing feeling in areas of my arms and legs, and I want to understand what it is and how to treat it,” he said.