Kremlin critic Navalny found ‘recipe for happiness’ in prison
MOSCOW: Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said Thursday, May 20, that he had managed to come out of his hunger strike and discovered the recipe for “happiness” in prison.
Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s best-known domestic critic, is serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence in a penal colony outside Moscow on old fraud charges he says are politically motivated.
Russia’s top opposition politician went on a hunger strike in late March, demanding proper treatment behind bars for severe back pain and numbness in limbs.
Navalny, who will turn 45 next month, ended the protest on April 23 after being treated in a civilian hospital and the West has warned Putin of the consequences of his critic’s death.
“Twenty-three days on a hunger strike and 23 days to get by in a very strict and conservative way,” Navalny said in his first Instagram post in nearly three weeks.
“My willpower surprised me.”
Last Sunday he ate bread – his favorite dish – for the first time in 46 days and was happier than an oligarch dining on board his yacht or a guest at a “Michelin-starred restaurant,” Navalny joked. .
The recipe for happiness in prison, he concludes, is simple.
“Pick what you like a lot, then throw it away for a while, then get it back,” Navalny wrote.
“Remember, this doesn’t apply to people. Always love your favorite people.”
Navalny’s last public appearance was via video link in court during an appeal hearing in late April, where he appeared skinny and said he started eating a few spoonfuls of porridge a day.
Earlier today, a senior official and the head of the Russian Prison Service Alexander Kalashnikov also said Navalny’s health had improved.
Navalny has “more or less recovered,” Kalashnikov told reporters.
“Her weight is already 82 kilograms (180 pounds), I think,” he added.
The prison chief, who has been sanctioned by both the US and the EU for Navalny’s treatment, said the Kremlin critic was “eating normally”.
Navalny Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) director Ivan Zhdanov also said his health was improving.
“His condition is now more or less normal. The recovery process is indeed underway,” Zhdanov told Moscow’s Echo radio.
Navalny’s allies said he weighed 93 kilograms when he arrived in prison in February, but his departure had fallen to 85 kilograms by the time he went on hunger strike.
Navalny’s health update comes as Russia prepares to ban his movement.
Next month, a tribunal will meet to decide whether to add its network of regional offices and the Anti-Corruption Foundation to a list of “terrorist and extremist” organizations.
The move would effectively ban Navalny’s political network, putting his supporters and backers on par with members of the Islamic State and Al Qaeda group.
In another move targeting its supporters, the lower house of the Russian parliament this week approved first-reading legislation that would bar members of “extremist” organizations from becoming lawmakers.
Since Navalny returned to Russia in January from Germany, where he was recovering from a poisoning attack he attributes to Putin, most of his key allies have been placed under house arrest or have left the country.