Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalni, imprisoned since January, ended his 24-day hunger strike on Friday. He said the protest generated “great progress”, referring to actions in his favor and the international impact of the case.
According to the opponent, in an Instagram post, “The doctors I trust released a statement saying that we have done enough for me to end my hunger strike.” On Thursday (22), a group of Navalni medical supporters said he could die at any time.
It is not known whether he received any type of liquid or venous food during this time.
The day before, tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets to protest the arrest of Navalni, a 44-year-old blogger who began promoting campaigns against state corruption in 2017, drawing attention with d huge acts organized on the Internet. Around 1,600 people have been arrested, but there has been less police violence than in the acts committed earlier this year, shortly after the activist’s arrest.
He was arrested at a Moscow airport on January 17, on his way back from 150 days of medical treatment in Germany – he was poisoned in Siberia in August 2020, by what scientists called a nerve agent of Soviet origin Novichok.
Navalni, his supporters and even the Joe Biden government, which called President Vladimir Putin a murderer, accuse the FSB (Russian Secret Service) of the attack. The Kremlin denies it.
The arrest was determined by a technicality, the fact that the comatose activist in Berlin did not score with his parole officer. He was serving a suspended sentence, the result of a conviction for fraud deemed falsified by the European Court of Human Rights.
In February, he was tried and sentenced to serve the remainder of his sentence, two and a half years, in a penal colony 100 km from Moscow. Without regular access to lawyers and doctors, the hunger strike began.
Last week, 15 kg thinner and with missing vital signs, Navalni was admitted to a Moscow hospital. He remains without care from doctors he trusts. “I am not withdrawing my request to see a competent doctor. I am losing sensation in parts of my arms and legs, I don’t understand what it is and want to be treated, ”he wrote.
He did, however, celebrate the fact that he had been examined twice by a team of civilian doctors, not from the prison system. “Two months ago they were laughing at my requests for help.”
Navalni is a growing headache for Putin and part of the Biden-sponsored Kremlin-West lobbying game, which has escalated rhetoric against the Russian leader after years of Donald Trump’s appeasement – attributed to either the incompetence, or to the alleged virtual help he received from Russian hackers when he was elected in 2016.
The end of Navalni’s hunger strike comes, interestingly, on the same day the Russians said they had started leaving their exercise troops near the borders of Ukraine, which created great tensions. with the United States and NATO (Western military alliance). As a politician, Navalni’s electoral density is almost zero, having never deviated from the line in independent polls.
But his alert videos, of questionable journalistic quality but in a fairly effective form, are widely seen and touch the fundamental mistrust of the Russian middle class towards its leaders.
The activist widened his field of activity by targeting the Kremlin support party, United Russia. He promotes campaigns in favor of all candidates who oppose the acronym and have had occasional success.
It was near the local elections in Tomsk that he was poisoned. The big challenge will be the parliamentary elections in September, in which United Russia has low approval ratings in the polls. This is one of the factors that gave rise to the judicial campaign, in a country where that power is aligned with the executive, against Navalni. It should also be noted from his influence that thousands of people were willing to take to the streets in their favor:
When acts are not authorized, as was the case on Wednesday, the police can arrest whoever they want.
Meanwhile, the internal encirclement of independent media, which is shrinking and lurking in Internet corners in Russia, is growing – there are few major newspapers, still under pressure from the Kremlin, and virtually all television is public. or aligned with government. Roskomnadzor, a regular Russian media agency, on Friday called Meduza a “foreign agent,” which is almost a death sentence for the company.
A 2012 law, drawn up following large protests against Putin’s new election, targeted NGOs, individuals and the media receiving external funding. They can work, but are subject to draconian financial controls. Meduza is based in Latvia, where its founder, Galina Timtchenko, fled in 2014 for fear of Russian repression. With investigative reports and opinion pieces opposing the regime, the site has great capillarity, with collaborators spread across Russia.
Now these people can suffer from legal ailments. Earlier this year, the traditional American Radio Europa Livre, was labeled a foreign agent and now faces a process that could result in fines of US $ 150,000, making its operation in Russia unworkable.