“Something bad happened to him,” says one close to Alexei Navalny. The opposition was checked for his authenticity.
Despite reports of the deteriorating health of detained Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, the Russian authorities see no cause for concern. The prison system said after a report by the Interfax news agency that the 44-year-old was examined on Wednesday.
“As a result of the investigation, his condition was assessed as stable and satisfactory.” But Leonid Volkov, a close confidant of Navalny, said Thursday that the translation meant that the political prisoner was in the hospital.
Back pain and paralysis of one of the legs
“Something bad is happening to him,” Volkov wrote on Twitter. According to his account, Navalny’s lawyer is currently not permitted to admit the politician who is being held at the IK-2 criminal camp in Pokrov, about 100 kilometers east of Moscow. Accordingly, they were also denied access to Navalny on Thursday – “without explanation”. Lawyers have previously spoken of Navalny’s back pain and paralysis of one of his legs.
Volkov spoke of a “torture camp” in which Navalny was a “personal hostage” of Vladimir Putin. He described the Russian president as “a dangerous and insane killer.” Navalny himself blames Putin for trying to assassinate him using the chemical warfare agent Novichok in August. He had said that in Putin’s prison, he was now avenging his survivors of the assassination attempt. Putin denied the allegations.
With his shaved head, Navalny, a former Kremlin opponent, has been seen on social media. “I couldn’t have imagined that a real concentration camp could be built 100 kilometers from Moscow,” he said on Instagram at the time, referring to the facility’s architecture, with its barracks-like buildings.
The video is titled “Putin’s Great Enemy Prison”.
Given the tense situation of his fellow inmates, he immediately believed the many stories that “people were beaten to half death” at Camp Pokrov until recently. His staff consider Navalny, who survived an assassination attempt using the Novichok neurotoxin, in great danger.
“He is not there because he committed a crime, but because he does not like Putin,” says Navalny’s colleague Dmitriy Nisovzio in a video entitled “An Inferno Prison for Putin’s Enemies.” The IK-2 colony is designed for around 800 inmates, however, they are not even allowed to talk to each other and are only allowed to shower once a week, according to the movie.
Navalny blamed President Vladimir Putin for the toxic 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 requirements to report to the authorities after a previous controversial criminal case in 2014. That is why a Moscow court sentenced him to imprisonment, and he is expected to serve about two and a half years. The European Court of Human Rights, the European Union Commission, the German government and the United States of America demanded the release of Nawalni. Moscow rejects this.
He must be humiliated and destroyed psychologically
Navalny will be punished for daring to survive the attack, says Nisovzio. The camp detention is also a revenge for Putin for the fact that Navalny made widespread corruption under the Kremlin chief in his films. The most successful video to date, “Putin’s Palace,” has garnered more than 110 million views on YouTube to date. The president refuses to have anything to do with the “Tsarist Empire” on the Black Sea.
In the criminal camp in the Vladimir region, east of Moscow, Navalny is now subjected to humiliation and psychological breakdown, as his team complains. “Education is through dehumanization,” Navalny says on Instagram. There are video cameras everywhere to punish the smallest violations of the “Infinite Rules”. “At night, I always wake up an hour later because a man in a suit jacket stands by my bed: he pictures me and says, ‘2:30 a.m. Navalny, the convict.’”
“But it is not clear how long it will last.”
Navalny’s lawyer, Wadim Kobso, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur that the photo of Navalny with a bald head posted on his Instagram is old, but everything his client wrote about the camp – including the shaved skull – was true. “If you handle all of it with humor, you can live with it. Overall, I’m fine,” Navalny says on Instagram, according to the post.
Human rights activist Marina Litvinovich says she hopes Navalny’s sense of humor will help him endure conditions in Pokrov for as long as possible. “But it is not clear how long it will last, because of course they will take out his sense of humor by all means possible.” In the film prepared by Nawalni’s team, eyewitnesses confirmed the inhuman conditions in the dormitories with up to 60 fellow prisoners and the lack of privacy. Fellow prisoners will also be used as informants and watchdogs in order to gain advantages for themselves. “This is torture,” the video says.
According to countless eyewitness reports, the Russian penal camps are notorious for their brute force. According to the authorities, there are about half a million people imprisoned in the huge empire. Time and time again, Kremlin opponents are imprisoned as political prisoners for differing minds, human rights activists complain. A notable example is Putin’s critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky – a former oil director and billionaire who is now fighting for political change in the West after his release from the concentration camp from exile.
He separated from his wife and children for years
Movement artist Nadezhda Tolkunikova of the Busy Bank troupe in Moscow spoke of “torture, beatings and murder.” She and co-bandmate Maria Alguchina were sentenced to two years in prison in a concentration camp in 2012 for protesting against Putin at an immoral prayer in a church. Tulkunikova said the lack of regular sleep, bad food, cold and dirty cells should destroy the prisoners ASAP.
Either way, Putin’s rival Navalny will have hard times – he will be separated from his wife Julia and their two children for years. The Prison Act allows him to have six short visits and four longer visits each year in a “public order camp.” However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, there have been reports recently from various camps of restrictions on these visiting rights.
Meanwhile, Navalny’s colleague Leonid Volkov dismisses the question raised by Kremlin propagandists about who will be Russia’s next opposition leader after Navalny’s imprisonment. “We are not looking for a replacement,” Volkov says in a video. Navalny is the leader of the movement and a symbol of resistance against Putin. This arrest only confirms this role and unites the opponents of the Kremlin head. When Navalny returned on January 17th, it was clear that the way to get rid of Putin was not easy.
“Typical entrepreneur. Lifelong beer expert. Hipster-friendly internet buff. Analyst. Social media enthusiast.”