Alexei Navalny Must End his Hunger Strike

3 min readApr 18, 2021


Photo by Hayden Walker on Unsplash

Alexei Navalny, who’s been in prison since January after returning to Russia from Germany — where he was treated for poisoning with the nerve agent Novichok — went on a hunger strike at the end of March after prison authorities did not allow his family to visit him following his reports that he had developed back pain and loss of feeling in his legs.

The prison replied he’s receiving adequate medical care.

But two days ago, the Associated Press reported that a physician who reviewed lab results of Navalny’s brought to him by his family, says his blood levels of potassium and creatinine are elevated and puts the patient in danger of death.

Here’s the problem: Putin would not mind it one bit if Navalny dies.

But the Russian people would lose an important leader.

Supporters of Navalny should insist that he give up the hunger strike immediately.

There are fights that can’t be won and that is one of them.

The Russian people are not ready to go into an uproar if Navalny were to die now. Much work remains to be done and for that Navalny has to be alive.

Who knows what will bring Russians out of the stupor they find themselves in, allowing a man like Putin to rule them since 1999. But the movement that Navalny has led has been making progress, slowly confronting Russians with the denial they are stuck in.

His dying in prison won’t help.

Prisons are bad places. Who knows what kind of pressures Navalny is being subjected to by fellow prisoners at the behest of the government, which may have led to the hunger strike.

Navalny has to focus on staying alive, not gamble with his health.

His supporters need to act fast while there is still time.

The New York Times said yesterday that an open letter had been addressed to Putin by prominent personalities asking that Navalny be allowed the care needed immediately.

This morning, the Associated Press stated that demonstrations on Navalny’s behalf are planned for this weekend in Moscow and St Petersburg.

The hope is that Putin will acknowledge the request.

But there is a good chance he’ll drag his feet and, in the meantime, Navalny’s health will worsen.

I can imagine Putin in his private residence, sipping from a glass of fine wine, as he muses over the events, relishing his returning to the spotlight he so enjoyed while Trump was president.

Now Biden is getting all the attention.

‘And to think he dared call me a killer, on national television,’ says Putin to himself, referring to Biden, a feeling of bitterness rising in him. ‘And now they want me to be charitable with my enemies… their Trojan Horse… because that’s all that Navalny is, an American agent.’

He ponders the thought and then, smiling to himself, says ‘Dear Alexei… to think that I feared you would one day dethrone me.’

Putin long ago signed a pact with the Devil. He has aided the brutal repression in Burma, propped up Assad in Syria.

One day soon, the Russian people will awaken. Alexei Navalny has been trying hard to do that.

But he has to stay alive.

For that, he has to quit the hunger strike.

In addition to the letters of prominent people in his support, we must encourage the effort to have Navalny be pushed forward as the choice for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Alexei Navalny, with his enormous courage, walks in the steps of Andrei Sakharov, the Russian physicist and human rights activist who won the same prize in 1975.

That award did much to raise the consciousness of the world and prepare the Russian people for the change that followed when the Soviet Union collapsed on December 26th 1991.




writer and psychiatrist with an interest in current affairs