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“Hell for Putin’s worst enemy” – Navalny in the penal camp | Free press

Pokrov (AP) – Kremlin opponent Alexej Navalny can be seen on social networks with a shaved head. “I couldn’t have imagined that a real concentration camp could be built 100 kilometers from Moscow,” he says on Instagram, referring to the facility’s architecture with its barrack-like buildings.

Given the tense attitude of his fellow prisoners, he immediately believed the many stories that until recently “people were beaten half to death” in the Pokrov camp. His employees see Navalny, who survived an assassination attempt with the neurotoxin Novichok, in grave danger.

“He’s not there because he committed a crime, but because he doesn’t like Putin,” said Navalny’s colleague Dmitri Nisovzew in a video called “Prison Hell for Putin’s Greatest Enemy,” which was viewed more than five million times on Wednesday. The IK-2 colony is designed for about 800 inmates, who are not even allowed to talk to each other and are only allowed to bathe once a week, the film says.

Navalny had blamed President Vladimir Putin for the poison attack on him in August. When the 44-year-old returned to Russia after treatment in Germany, he was arrested at Moscow airport. The judiciary accuses him of violating the duty to report to the authorities after a previous controversial criminal case in 2014. That is why a court in Moscow sentenced him to a prison camp and is expected to serve about two and a half years. The European Court of Human Rights, the European Commission, the German government and the US had demanded Nawalny’s release. But Moscow rejects that.

Navalny will be punished for daring to survive the attack, Nisovzew said. The detention in the camp is also Putin’s revenge for Navalny’s exposing the widespread corruption under the Kremlin’s head in his films. The most successful video to date, “A Palace for Putin”, has been viewed more than 110 million times on YouTube to date. The president refuses to have anything to do with the “tsarist empire” on the Black Sea.

In the prison camp in the Vladimir region to the east of Moscow, Navalny is now humiliated and psychologically broken, his team complains. “Education through dehumanization,” Navalny says on Instagram. Video cameras are everywhere to punish the smallest violations of the “infinite rules”. “At night I always wake up after an hour because there is a man in a uniform coat next to my bed: he films me and says:” 2:30 am, the convict Navalny. “

Navalny’s lawyer Wadim Kobsew told the German news agency that the photo of Navalny with the bald head on Instagram was older, but that everything his client wrote about the camp – including the shaved skull – was correct. “If you take it all with humor, you can live with it. Overall, things are going well, ”Navalny said on Instagram, the post said.

She hopes Navalny’s humor will help him endure conditions in Pokrov for as long as possible, says human rights activist Marina Litvinovich. “But it is not clear how long he will last as they will of course dispel his humor by any means possible.” In the film by Nawalny’s team, eyewitnesses confirm inhumane conditions in dormitories with up to 60 inmates and no privacy. Fellow inmates would also be used as informers and watchdogs to gain benefits for themselves. “This is torture,” the video says.

According to numerous eyewitness accounts, Russia’s penal camps are notorious for brute force. About half a million people are trapped in the vast empire, according to authorities. Time and again, Kremlin opponents are imprisoned as political prisoners for their different ways of thinking, as human rights activists complain. A prominent example is the Putin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky – the former oil manager and billionaire is now fighting for political change after his release from the prison camp from exile in the West.

The action artist Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of the Moscow punk band Pussy Riot reported on “torture, abuse and death”. She and her bandmate Maria Alyochina were sentenced to two years in a prison camp in 2012 for protesting against Putin in a punk prayer in a church. Systematic sleep deprivation, bad food, cold and dirty cells should break the prisoners as soon as possible, Tolokonnikova said.

Regardless, Putin’s adversary Navalny will struggle – he will be separated from his wife Julia and their two children for years. Prison law allows him about six short and four longer visits per year in a “general regime camp”. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, there have recently been reports from many camps about restrictions on these visiting rights.

Meanwhile, Navalny’s colleague Leonid Volkov dismisses the question of the Kremlin’s propaganda about who will be the next opposition leader in Russia after Navalny’s arrest. “We are not looking for a replacement,” Volkov said in a video. Navalny is the leader of the movement and the symbol of the resistance against Putin. The detention only underscores this role and unites the opponents of the Kremlin chief. When Navalny returned on January 17, it was clear that getting rid of Putin was not easy.


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