Russia. Aleksei Navalny faces ‘deeply disturbing’ treatment in prison, reports say

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Reports and Photos Reveal Cruel Treatment of Prominent Russian Political Activist

Navalny’s health and well-being are at serious risk

Reacting to disturbing reports and photos of prominent Russian political activist Aleksei Navalny, who is serving a nine-year prison sentence on bogus fraud charges, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:

“We have received deeply disturbing information about the increasingly harsh treatment of Alexei Navalny in the strict regime penal colony where he is currently detained.

“This includes harsh sentences for alleged offenses and repeated efforts to ostracize him from other prisoners who would not be allowed to speak to him or even look at him.

“In flagrant violation of his rights as well as Russia’s own laws, Aleksei Navalny is not allowed to have confidential interviews with his lawyer. His health and well-being are at serious risk, which amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

“Russian prison authorities are using the cruel methods they have been perfecting for years in an attempt to break the spirit of Alexei Navalny by making his existence in the penal colony unbearable, humiliating and dehumanizing.

“We demand the immediate and unconditional release of prisoner of conscience Aleksei Navalny, and the accountability of all those responsible for his unlawful imprisonment and ill-treatment.

Cruel conditions

Aleksei Navalny was transferred from penal colony IK-5 (Pokrov, Vladimir region) to another colony, with a stricter security regime, IK-6 (Melekhovo, Vladimir region) on June 14, where his treatment with the colony’s administration and guards became tougher, according to his lawyers.

Since August 15, the administration of the colony has placed Aleksei Navalny in a disciplinary cell (shtrafnoy izolyatoror SHIZO, in Russian) on four occasions, either citing minor violations of prison rules, such as an unbuttoned button on his prison shirt, or giving no explanation.

During his stay at SHIZO, Aleksei Navalny is denied family visits, packages and letters. The prisoner of conscience was also said to have been labeled a “malicious violator” of the penal colony regime and placed in “strict prison conditions”. This means, among other things, that he is only entitled to four visits from relatives per year instead of six.

In addition to disciplinary measures against Aleksei Navalny, the administration of the colony told him that they were depriving him of his right to have confidential communication with his lawyer. As a result, Aleksei Navalny now has to communicate with his lawyer through an opaque plastic sheet, which prevents them from exchanging or examining documents.

Alexei Navalny’s communication with the other prisoners would have been severely restricted: other prisoners would be forbidden to speak to him or even to look at him. According to testimonies from his colleagues and a Russian human rights activist, when Navalny passes by, an alarm sounds, ordering other prisoners to turn away from him or away from the windows.

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