Alexei Navalny says he could face solitary confinement | News | DW | 29.03.2021

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Alexei Navalny says he could face solitary confinement

The jailed Russian opposition leader said he was being accused of breaking minor prison rules, which might put him in jeopardy of further punishment.

Navalny at a Moscow court on February 2

Navalny compared conditions in solitary confinement cells to "torture"

Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said on Monday he feared being placed in solitary confinement after being accused of several minor infractions of prison rules.

Navalny said in a post on Instagram that he had been given six reprimands over two weeks, and that two reprimands would be technically enough for a prison tribunal send a prisoner to a punishment cell. 

"The conditions there are close to torture," the post read. 

Some of the infractions Navalny listed included getting out of bed 10 minutes before being commanded, refusing to watch a video lecture, and wearing a T-shirt during a meeting with lawyers. 

Navalny also posted his first picture from prison; a grainy image of himself with a shaven head. 

A screenshot from Alexei Navalny's Instagram account

This is the first known image of Navalny in prison

Why is Navalny in jail?

One of Russian President Vladimir Putin's most outspoken critics, Navalny is currently serving two-and-a-half years at the IK-2 penal colony about 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of Moscow. 

He was arrested on parole violation charges immediately after returning to Russia from Germany, where he had been recovering from nerve agent poisoning. Navalny said the charges were a ploy to silence his opposition to the Kremlin.

The EU and the US have sanctioned Russian officials in connection with the poisoning and have demanded Navalny's immediate release from jail. 

What is Navalny's condition?

There have been numerous reports over the past several weeks that Navalny's health was suffering, including back and leg pain. 

On Sunday, a group of medical professionals published an open letter demanding the 44-year-old Navalny receive proper care.

"We fear for the worst. Leaving a patient in this condition ... may lead to severe consequences, including an irreversible, full or partial loss of lower limb functions," the letter said.

A Russian public commission on human rights said on Sunday its members had visited Navalny in jail in response to reports of health problems. 

The commission told TASS news agency that Navalny said his leg hurt and he asked for assistance to get painkillers, but did not issue any other requests. 

"He can continue to walk on his own," the commission said, according to TASS.

Navalny had said in a statement last week that his request for treatment by a civilian doctor was rejected by prison authorities.

He also claimed he was being woken up by a guard every hour during the night in an attempt to undermine his health through sleep deprivation.

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wmr/msh (Reuters, dpa)