A Russian military court has postponed a hearing into a lawsuit filed by jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny for the refusal by Russian military investigators to open a probe into his poisoning with a nerve agent in Siberia last August.
The judge of the 235th Garrison Court on March 16 adjourned the hearing until March 22 after Navalny refused to take part via a video link from the prison complex where he is being held.
Navalny described tight controls at his prison, where he was moved several days ago, in a letter posted on March 15, saying they include hourly checks during the night.
Navalny's Instagram posting of the letter confirmed for the first time that he had arrived at a notorious prison colony in Pokrov in the Vladimir region, 85 kilometers east of Moscow, which stands out among Russian penitentiary facilities for its particularly strict regime.
Navalny described the prison, IK-2, as a “friendly concentration camp.” He said that he hasn't seen “even a hint of violence” there but faced overwhelming controls that he compared to George Orwell's classic novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four."
The anti-corruption campaigner's complaint stems from August 2020 when, in a critical condition, he was flown from Siberia to Germany, where he was diagnosed with poisoning with what was confirmed by several European labs as a Novichok-type nerve agent.
Navalny's lawyers filed a lawsuit against several officers of the Federal Security Service who were implicated by the Bellingcat investigative group in the operation to poison Navalny. However, the Main Military Investigative Directorate refused to launch a probe and Navalny's lawyers filed another lawsuit, this time against the investigative directorate’s inactivity in the case.
The Kremlin critic has accused President Vladimir Putin of ordering the poisoning, but Russian authorities have denied any involvement.
After receiving treatment in Germany, Navalny returned on January 17 to Moscow, where he was immediately arrested.
On February 2, a court in Moscow ruled that while in Germany, Navalny had violated the terms of parole from an older embezzlement case that is widely considered politically motivated.
His suspended 3 1/2 year sentence was converted into jail time, though the court reduced that amount to 2 1/2 years for time already served in detention.
Navalny’s detention set off a wave of national protests and a crackdown against his supporters.
The European Union and the United States imposed a series of sanctions against Russia over the Navalny case.