Imprisoned Russian dissident Alexey Navalny has been moved to solitary confinement, according to tweets from himself and his staff, in what he described as a move to “shut me up”.
Navalny, a prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, explained what happened in a Twitter thread on Thursday: “Congratulations, I have climbed one more level in the hierarchy of prison offenders,” Navalny wrote wryly, adding that prison officials had moved him. in a cramped “cell-like room”.
Cell-type rooms are used as punishment or to separate the most dangerous offenders from the Russian prison system. According to a report by the Poland-based think tank, the Center for Eastern Studies (OSW), inmates in Russian penal colonies are generally housed in barracks rather than cells.
In his solitary confinement, Navalny said he was only allowed two books and could use the prison police station, “albeit on a very limited budget”.
But the “true, indescribable bestiality, very characteristic of the Kremlin, which manually controls my entire incarceration” is the blocking of visits, he says. His parents, children and wife were to visit him, but he will no longer be able to see them, Navalny wrote.
“Alexey Navalny was transferred to a cell-type room. It’s like a punishment cell, just not for 15 days, but forever,” spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh wrote on Twitter.
According to the Russian criminal code, detention in a cell-like room cannot exceed six months. CNN has contacted the Russian prison services for comment.
Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent in 2020, an attack that several Western officials and Navalny himself have openly blamed on the Kremlin. Russia has denied any involvement.
After a five-month stint in Germany recovering from Novichok poisoning, Navalny returned to Moscow last year, where he was immediately arrested for violating probation terms imposed in a 2014 case.
Earlier this year, Navalny was sentenced to nine years in prison on charges of fraud which he said were politically motivated.
As Judge Margarita Kotova read the charges against him, footage showed Navalny as a gaunt figure standing next to his lawyers in a room full of security guards. He appeared oblivious to the proceedings, perusing 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 high-security prison in Melekhovo in the Vladimir region.
“They’re doing it to shut me up,” Navalny said on Thursday’s Twitter feed of his new prison conditions. “So what’s my first duty?” It’s true, don’t be afraid and don’t be silent,” he wrote, urging others to do the same.
“At every opportunity, campaign against war, Putin and United Russia. I kiss you all.