General

Kemlin critic Navalny says locked up in ‘concentration camp’

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who is
serving a two-and-half-year jail term in a penal colony outside Moscow, said
Monday he was locked up in a “real concentration camp”.

His comments were the first confirmation of widespread reports that the
Russian opposition politician would be spending his sentence at one of the
most notorious facilities in Russia’s extensive network of over 600 work
colonies.

“I have to admit that the Russian prison system was able to surprise me,”
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
100 km from Moscow.”

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

Also Monday, Navalny’s lawyer Olga Mikhailova confirmed that he was at the
colony, saying that she had been able to visit him there, Russian news
agencies reported.

In his post, 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.

– Woken up ‘every hour’ –

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

Earlier this month, 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, Europe’s rights court told Moscow to release the opposition
politician out of concern for his life, a call Russia swiftly rejected.

In his Instagram post, Navalny said that at night he was woken up “every
hour” by a man who snaps a photo of him and announces that the convict who is
“prone to escape” is 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.

– International pressure –

Navalny’s arrest set off a wave of protests across Russia and a brutal
police crackdown. The United States and the European Union have called for
his release.

In a coordinated action earlier this month, Washington and Brussels imposed
sanctions on senior Russian officials, as US intelligence concluded that
Moscow orchestrated the poisoning attack on Navalny.

A number of Navalny’s close allies remain under house arrest, charged with
violating Moscow’s ban on mass events due to the coronavirus pandemic by
calling for protests in his support.

After police detained some 11,500 protesters at nationwide rallies held in
late January and early February, Navalny’s right-hand man Leonid Volkov
called for the opposition to regroup.

Volkov, who is based in Lithuania, told AFP last week that the team would
soon announce new protests for the spring and summer ahead of key
parliamentary elections in the fall.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)