Kremlin Critic Navalny Says He Will End Prison Hunger Strike : NPR

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, shown here at the February court session, said he was ending his hunger strike. Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP Hide caption

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Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, shown here at the February court session, said he was ending his hunger strike.

Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP

Jailed Russia’s opposition leader Alexei Navalny said Friday he broke off a more than three-week hunger strike in prison that doctors say was near death.

Navalny, a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who started refusing to eat on March 31 to demand medical care for leg and back pain, said in an Instagram post that it would take him 24 days to go on hunger strike to end gradually.

He thanked the “good people” in Russia and internationally.

“My heart is full of love and gratitude for you,” he said, thanking “good, indifferent people all over the world.”

Navalny said he was not withdrawing his medical request and that he was losing sensation in parts of his arms and legs. He added that he would like to know more about what is causing the pain – but given his medical concerns, he decided to begin the process of ending his strike.

He said public pressure contributed to his being examined twice by civilian doctors in the past few days, the last time just before the nationwide protests against support on Wednesday.

Navalny said doctors he trusts said Thursday he could die if he didn’t stop the hunger strike.

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