Russian opposition leader Navalny sent to the harshest isolation cell for a year

Russian opposition leader Navalny sent to the harshest isolation cell for a year

Navalny followed the case via video link from the penal prison where he is being held.AP photo

On Tuesday, the court rejected the opposition leader’s appeal after the judge increased his sentence from 9 to 19 years last month. Navalny was convicted of “creating an extremist organization.” Journalists were not welcomed during the appeal hearing and were only allowed to attend the sentencing hearing. Navalny himself followed the case via video link from the penal camp where he is being held.

The day after his appeal, Navalny learned that he would have to go to an EPKT isolation cell for twelve months. This is the maximum possible punishment in Russia’s penal colonies, the opposition leader wrote in .

Navalny sees the decision as a new low in his treatment as a prisoner. “I feel like an old rock star on the verge of depression. Someone who has reached the top of the charts and has nothing left to strive for,” Navalny said. “But I did not rise to the top, I fell to the bottom. It could be worse.


Navalny is considered one of the most important figures in the Russian opposition. In August 2020, the opposition leader was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok in Tomsk, Siberia. According to research by the journalist group Bellingcat and Navalny’s private organization, Russia’s FSB security service was responsible for the poisoning. Two days later, Navalny was transferred to a German hospital for treatment, where he miraculously survived the attack.

In January 2021, after a months-long recovery period in Germany, he returned to Moscow, where he was immediately arrested. During his treatment, a suspended sentence for alleged fraud was converted into a prison sentence because Navalny did not inform Russian police.

A year and a half later, Navalny was transferred to a penal colony in the Vladimir region, where other political activists are also being held. Navalny soon filed a complaint against the colony because guards were constantly waking him up at night. This spring, Navalny’s aides said that he would be poisoned again in prison and that his health condition was “critical.”

Meanwhile, the Russian court classified Navalny’s anti-corruption organization an “extremist organization.” New accusations of fraud and corruption were also brought against the opposition leader.

Over the past year, the leadership of Navalny’s penal colony has imposed increasingly strict restrictions on alleged wrongdoing. For example, the opposition leader is not allowed to meet others, does not have access to newspapers or books, and the radio in his cell does not work.

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