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Photo: Omer Messinger/Getty Images

Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said Friday that he's ending his three-week hunger strike, one day after his doctors pleaded for him to do so to preserve his life.

Why it matters: Navalny's treatment in prison has drawn international condemnation. The U.S. and its Western allies had warned that Navalny's death in the custody of Russian authorities would have serious consequences.

The big picture: Navalny began his hunger strike on March 31 to protest prison authorities denying him medical treatment for pain and numbness in his back and leg.

  • Medical experts warned last week that Navalny faced possible kidney failure, and that he would die in "a matter of days." Authorities then said he had been transferred to a hospital in another penal colony, though Navalny's lawyers claimed civilian doctors were still not being allowed to see him.
  • Navalny said in an Instagram post Friday that he had finally been evaluated by doctors whom he fully trusts, and that their words led him to believe he could end his hunger strike.

The big picture: Often described as "the man Putin fears most," Navalny was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for violating his parole while recovering in Germany from an attempted poisoning with the chemical nerve agent Novichok — which U.S. intelligence says was carried out by Russian security services.

  • Navalny's supporters organized mass protests across Russia on Wednesday to coincide with President Vladimir Putin's annual "state of the nation" address.
  • Navalny on Friday thanked his supporters — at least 1,800 of whom were detained during protests — and wrote that he does "not want anyone to experience physical suffering because of me."

Go deeper: Russia announces end to massive troop buildup near Ukraine

Go deeper

Apr 22, 2021 - World

Putin warns the West as Russian police detain almost 1,800 Navalny protesters

Opposition supporters attend a rally in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, in central Moscow, Russia, on Wednesday. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images

Security forces detained at least 1,770 supporters of the jailed, hunger-striking Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny amid protests across Russia Wednesday, according to the independent monitoring group OVD-Info.

The big picture: At least 30 protesters were arrested in Moscow, 805 in St. Petersburg and 119 in the Urals city of Ufa, among dozens of other cities, the group estimates.

Apr 22, 2021 - World

Quiet on Ukraine's eastern front as Russia announces end to exercises

Russian military exercises today in Crimea. Photo: Sergei Malgavko\TASS via Getty

Just as the threat of a Russian invasion seemed to be looming largest, Russia's defense minister announced today that the troops that had massed on Ukraine's borders would return to their barracks by May 1.

Driving the news: Some 80,000 troops and heavy military equipment had been moved over the last month to occupied Crimea and to Ukraine's eastern borders.

Scoop: 50,000 migrants released; few report to ICE

A law enforcement officer walks to meet migrants crossed the Rio Grande River illegally last month. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

About 50,000 migrants who crossed the southern border illegally have now been released in the United States without a court date. Although they are told to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office instead, just 13% have showed up so far, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The sizable numbers are a sign of just how overwhelmed some sectors of the U.S.-Mexico border continue to be: A single stretch covering the Rio Grande Valley had 20,000 apprehensions in a week. The figures also show the shortcomings of recent emergency decisions to release migrants.