March 6, 2008 / 5:11 PM / 11 years ago

Russian opposition activist calls off hunger strike

ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - A Russian opposition activist on Thursday ended a four-day hunger strike launched in protest at his weekend detention, his lawyer said.

Maxim Reznik, the head of the St Petersburg branch of the liberal Yabloko party, was detained hours after polls closed in Sunday’s election, which President-elect Dmitry Medvedev won with more than 70 percent of the vote.

Police said Reznik was detained after he attacked another man on the street and later assaulted a policeman who rushed to the scene, charges Reznik denies.

Reznik, who is still being held, declined to accept food following his detention, but changed his mind for both personal and political reasons, his lawyer said.

“He stopped the hunger strike after being asked to end it by both his mother and by Yabloko’s leader Grigory Yavlinsky”, Reznik’s lawyer, Boris Gruzd, told Reuters.

A Yabloko spokesman said Reznik’s detention was part of an attempt to undermine the party before opposition rallies against the election of Medvedev, President Vladimir Putin’s protege.

The St Petersburg meeting on Monday, which drew 2,000 people, was largely peaceful. In Moscow, where a rally was banned, riot police arrested scores of activists, Reuters reporters at the scene said.

Reznik, 33, is a history graduate of St Petersburg University, where Medvedev studied a decade earlier.

Reporting by Denis Pinchuk; Editing by Dominic Evans

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