Russian dissident Alexey Navalny says he was put in a solitary cell to ‘silence me’.



CNN

Jailed Russian dissident Alexey Navalny was transferred to a solitary confinement cell, according to tweets by him and his associates, in what he described as a move aimed at “silencing me.”

Navalny, a prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, explained what happened in a Twitter thread on Thursday: “Congratulations, I’ve moved up another level in the hierarchy of prison offenders,” Navalny wrote wryly, adding that the Prison officials moved him to a cramped “cell-like room.”

Cell-like rooms are used for punishment or segregation of the most dangerous offenders in the Russian penal system. According to a report by the Poland-based think tank Center for Eastern Studies (OSW), inmates in Russian penal colonies are housed in barracks rather than cells.

In his isolation, Navalny said he was only allowed two books and could use the prison commissioner, “albeit on a very limited budget.”

But the “real indescribable bestiality, very characteristic of the Kremlin manually controlling my entire detention” is the barring of visits, he said. His parents, children and wife should visit him, but he will not see them again, Navalny wrote.

“Alexey Navalny was transferred to a cell room. It’s like a punishment cell, only not for 15 days, but forever,” wrote his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh on Twitter.

According to the Russian Penal Code, detention in a cell-like room cannot exceed six months. CNN has reached out to Russian law enforcement officials for comment.

Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent in 2020, an attack several Western officials and Navalny himself openly blamed on the Kremlin. Russia has denied any involvement.

After a five-month stay in Germany to recover from Novichok poisoning, Navalny returned to Moscow last year, where he was promptly arrested for violating probation periods imposed in a 2014 case.

Earlier this year, Navalny was sentenced to nine years in prison on allegations of fraud, which he says were politically motivated.

As Judge Margarita Kotova read out the charges against him, footage showed Navalny as a gaunt figure standing next to his lawyers in a room full of security officers. He seemed unfazed by the proceedings and looked over some court documents on a table in front of him.

Navalny was then transferred in June from a penal colony, where he was serving his sentence, to a maximum security prison facility in Melekhovo in the Vladimir region.

“They are doing it to silence me,” Navalny said in a Twitter thread on Thursday about his new prison conditions. “So what’s my first duty? That’s right, don’t be afraid and don’t shut up,” he writes, urging others to do the same.

“Campaign against the war, Putin and United Russia at every opportunity. Hugs to you all.”

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