Russia’s Navalny Says Risks Solitary Confinement Over Prison Infractions

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Jailed Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny says he fears the possibility of solitary confinement in a punishment cell after being accused of minor infractions.

Navalny said in an Instagram post on March 29 that he had been given six reprimands within two weeks at the correctional colony where he is being held.

“You get two reprimands and you go to punitive isolation, which is an unpleasant place, conditions there are close to torture,” he said.

Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic, is currently incarcerated in Correctional Colony No. 2, about 100 kilometers from Moscow, which is known as one of the toughest penitentiaries in Russia.

Navalny said his infractions include “getting out of bed 10 minutes before the ‘wake up’ command” and wearing a T-shirt during a meeting with his lawyers.

“I’m waiting for a reprimand with the wording ‘grinning though the routine of the day said it was time to suffer,'” Navalny said in the post, adding that the situation reminded him of grade school, when students were told not to argue with the teacher because they knew “everything better.”

Navalny’s health condition became an issue last week after allies said they were concerned over his deteriorating health and called on prison authorities to clarify his condition.

Navalny said he was suffering from severe back pain and that “nothing” was being done by prison authorities to solve the problem.

He said in a message on Instagram on March 26 that “getting out of bed is hard and very painful” and that the prison doctor prescribed two tablets of ibuprofen a day.

Members of the Public Oversight Commission in the Vladimir region visited the colony and met with Navalny “in order to learn about problems with his health and the provision of medical treatment,” according to the commission.

Commission Chairman Vyacheslav Kulikov said on March 28 that Navalny “complained about pain in his leg and asked for assistance in getting injections to treat this pain.”

“We asked doctors to pay attention to this and, in case it is necessary, to carry out an additional medical checkup,” Kulikov said.

Navalny was detained at a Moscow airport in January immediately upon returning from Berlin, where he had been recovering from what several Western laboratories determined was a poisoning attempt using a Novichok-type nerve agent that saw him fall seriously ill on a flight in Siberia in August 2020.

Navalny has said it was an assassination attempt ordered by Putin — an allegation rejected by the Kremlin.

A Moscow court in February ruled that while in Germany, Navalny had violated the terms of parole from an older embezzlement case that is widely considered to be politically motivated.

His suspended 3 1/2-year sentence was converted into jail time, though the court reduced that amount to 2 1/2 years for time already served in detention.

Navalny’s incarceration set off a wave of national protests and a crackdown on his supporters.

The European Union, the United States, and Canada have imposed a series of sanctions against Russia over the Navalny case.

With reporting by Reuters