‘Everyone is watched’: Alexei Navalny shares news from prison

Kremlin critic posts on Instagram from camp northeast of Moscow known for strict control

An officer of the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service walks near the gate of the Penal Colony No 2, where Alexei Navalny has been transferred. Photograph: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images

An officer of the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service walks near the gate of the Penal Colony No 2, where Alexei Navalny has been transferred. Photograph: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images

 

The Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny is being held in a prison camp in the Vladimir region of Russia northeast of Moscow known for its strict control of inmates, a message posted on the opposition politician’s Instagram account confirmed on Monday.

Mr Navalny’s precise location had been unknown after his legal team said last week that he had been moved from the nearby Kolchugino jail and that they had not been told where he was being taken.

“I have to admit that the Russian prison system was able to surprise me,” Mr Navalny posted on Instagram along with an old photo of himself with a close-cropped haircut.

“I had no idea that it was possible to arrange a real concentration camp 100km from Moscow.”

Mr Navalny added that he was in Penal Colony No 2 in the town of Pokrov, Vladimir, with a “freshly shaven head”.

Mr Navalny’s lawyer Olga Mikhailova confirmed that she had been able to visit him at the colony.

In his post, Mr Navalny wrote that “video cameras are everywhere, everyone is watched and at the slightest violation they make a report.

“I think someone upstairs read Orwell’s 1984 and said: ‘Yeah, cool. Let’s do this. Education through dehumanisation’,” he added.

Mr Navalny said he had not yet seen any hints of violence at the colony, but because of the “tense posture of the convicts”, he could “easily believe” previous reports of brutality.

Earlier this month, the activist Konstantin Kotov, who spent nearly two years at the colony for violating protest rules, described to AFP an environment in which inmates are not treated “like people”.

In February, the European Court of Human Rights told Moscow to release the opposition politician out of concern for his life, a call Russia swiftly rejected.

In his Instagram post, Mr Navalny said that at night he was woken up “every hour” by a man who snapped a photo of him and announced that the convict, who was “prone to escape”, was still in his cell.

In mid-January, the Kremlin critic was taken into police custody shortly after landing at a Moscow airport from Germany, where he had been treated for a near-fatal poisoning with the Soviet-era nerve toxin Novichok.

The anti-graft campaigner, who gained prominence for his investigations into the wealth of Russia’s elites, insists the poisoning was carried out on the orders of President Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied the claim, but has yet to launch a probe into the attack.

Mr Navalny’s arrest set off a wave of protests across Russia and a brutal police crackdown. The US and EU have called for his release.

In a co-ordinated action this month, Washington and Brussels imposed sanctions on senior Russian officials, as US intelligence concluded that Moscow had orchestrated the poisoning attack on Mr Navalny. – Guardian