Alexei Navalny says he risks solitary confinement over numerous reprimands in Russian penal colony

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Alexei Navalny's team for the first time since he was jailed published the photo of his prison ID - Alexei Navalny/Social Media
Alexei Navalny's team for the first time since he was jailed published the photo of his prison ID - Alexei Navalny/Social Media

Alexei Navalny, the jailed Russian opposition leader, says he could be sent to solitary confinement over numerous reprimands for minor infractions, such as getting out of bed early.

Mr Navalny, a fierce critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin, has been in custody since he returned to Russia in January after being attacked with a deadly nerve agent in August 2020.

He was sentenced to nearly three years in prison last month for failing to see his probation officer while undergoing treatment in Germany, where he had been airlifted after falling into a coma in Siberia. Mr Navalny has accused the Kremlin of being behind the attack, which it denies.

Mr Navalny said in an Instagram post uploaded by his team on Monday that he risks being put in solitary confinement as a punishment after he was given six reprimands in the prison colony in the past two weeks.

Rights activists and former prisoners have described the IK-2 colony about 120 kilometres east of Moscow as “one of the worst” prisons in Russia where inmates are constantly monitored and punished for the most minor perceived infractions.

Mr Navalny said that he had received reprimands for something as insignificant as getting up ten minutes before the wake-up call and refusing to watch a video lecture, calling it “idiotic.”

He also said that he once refused to go out for morning exercises, telling the guard: “Let’s grab some coffee instead.”

“I’m waiting to receive a reprimand for something like ‘He smiled too much during the official suffering time,” he wrote.

Two reprimands are enough to send an inmate to a solitary confinement cell, which are small with no facilities, and are “close to torture,” according to Mr Navalny.

Mr Navalny compared the prison panel which issues the reprimands to the dressing-down he used to receive when he was in school in the final years of the Soviet Union.

“Navalny, don’t argue with the history teacher, he knows better. Those who argue too much end up badly and wind up in jail sooner or later,” he wrote. “I have to say they were right!”

Navalny profile
Navalny profile

Mr Navalny’s allies last week raised the alarm about his deteriorating health after revealing that he had been complaining about severe back pain and losing sensation in one of his legs while being denied medical assistance. Mr Navalny filed an official complaint, claiming prison authorities of wilfully denying him medical help to “damage” him.

The politician’s family has petitioned authorities to let a civilian doctor examine him in prison. Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, told reporters on Monday that it was not up to the Kremlin to handle matters related to the welfare of prisoners.

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