(LibertySociety.com) – In February, a Russian court sentenced opposition leader Alexei Navalny to 3.5 years in prison for violating his parole. In April, President Vladimir Putin’s toughest critic began a hunger strike that lasted nearly a month and almost killed him. Before he ended his hunger strike, doctors said he could “die at any moment.” That infuriated Navalny’s supporters, who took to the streets to protest. Those demonstrations landed hundreds of people in jail.
Navalny’s Condition and Mass Arrests
On April 17, Physician Yaroslav Ashikhmin said that Navalny was in grave shape. His potassium levels were so high the doctor was worried that they could lead to cardiac arrest. There was also a concern about his high creatinine levels resulting from deteriorating kidneys.
Kira Yarmysh, Navalny’s spokeswoman, said that he was losing sensation in his arms and legs. Yarmysh posted on Facebook, telling people, “Alexei is dying.” In early April, reports of his alleged mistreatment in prison caused outrage across the world. That outrage only grew worse when the news of his condition became public last weekend. Supporters of the opposition leader held massive protests in the streets of Russia. On Wednesday, April 21, police took more than 1,900 people into custody, reportedly using stun guns to arrest some of the demonstrators.
Navalny Ends Hunger Strike
On April 23, Navalny announced he was ending his hunger strike after doctors told him he was close to death. In an Instagram post, the opposition leader said he spoke to doctors he trusts and decided he’d “achieved” enough, so it was time to end the strike.
Navalny originally stopped eating on March 31 as a way to demand proper medical care. He said that although he’s ending his hunger strike, he still needs to see a specialist to determine why he’s losing sensation in his limbs and find a treatment for it. On Monday, Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service said that the opposition leader was in “satisfactory” condition.
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