Accessibility links

Breaking News

Former Inmates Reveal Russian Prison's Methods 'To Break' Navalny

Aleksei Navalny was arrested in January upon his return from a hospital in Berlin.
Aleksei Navalny was arrested in January upon his return from a hospital in Berlin.

Two former inmates of the penal colony in Russia's Vladimir region have described what they said were the penitentiary administration's methods used to put pressure on jailed opposition leader Aleksei Navalny.

Nariman Osmanov and Yevgeny Burak told Dozhd TV in an interview broadcast on November 4 that the colony administration placed Navalny in a group of inmates that had been specially formed to deal with the opposition leader.

According to Osmanov, all the inmates in the brigade had been instructed not to talk to Navalny and record each of his steps on a daily basis.

Burak said that at least 10 inmates always followed Navalny, even in bathrooms, constantly trying to provoke the politician to hit them, which Navalny managed to avoid.

Osmanov and Burak said that a purported documentary film was shown in the colony insinuating that Navalny was gay.

Homosexual inmates in jails and prisons across Russia and most of the former Soviet republics face daily humiliation and torture and are forced to do menial work.

Osmanov also said that when Navalny was on hunger strike in the colony, prison guards moved next to his bed the bed of an inmate who was said to be suffering from tuberculosis -- a rumor later proven to be not true.

Osmanov said that during Navalny's hunger strike, some inmates brought a bag of sausages to the barrack and started roasting the sausages on the premises, which is usually not permitted.

According to Osmanov, all the actions were ordered by the penitentiary administration.

Navalny was arrested in January on his return to Russia from Germany, where he was treated for a nerve-agent poisoning he claims was carried out by Russian security agents at President Vladimir Putin's behest, which the Kremlin has denied.

Navalny was subsequently sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison on a parole violation on a conviction that he denounces as absurd and politically motivated.

Thousands of Russians were detained during nationwide protests calling for his release.

With reporting by Dozhd

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.