In Russia, Alexei Navalny suffers the ravages of the isolation regime

As derisory as it may seem, the victory is exceptional enough to be mentioned: Thursday, January 12, Alexeï Navalny obtained an electric kettle and a plate of medicine. The imprisoned opponent has been ill for ten days. Placed in solitary confinement, he complains of a high fever and coughs. He did not have access to a doctor.

The German government called for medical treatment on Friday “immediate”. “We received with great concern the information concerning the critical state of health of Alexei Navalny”said during a regular press briefing a spokeswoman for the executive, Christiane Hoffmann, noting that “what happens to Navalny can apply to all those in Russia who raise their voices against the regime” of President Vladimir Putin.

According to one of his lawyers, Vadim Kobzev, the detainee’s symptoms are those of a simple respiratory infection, nothing alarming, but Alexei Navalny’s health is fragile, lastingly affected by the poisoning he suffered. in August 2020. The conditions of the mitard, a bare concrete cell of 2 by 3 meters, do not help: the room is freezing in winter and the prisoner must remain standing during the day.

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His relatives are worried and more than 600 doctors have signed an open letter asking that Alexeï Navalny can be treated and that the “bullying” against him – a drop of water on the scale of Russia, but the initiative is exceptional and requires rare courage. Across Russia, former supporters of the Anti-Corruption Fund (his organization, disbanded in 2021) are being hunted down, and any sign of support for Mr. Navalny is suppressed.

The prison administration therefore ended up giving in, at least momentarily, just as it had done in the spring of 2021, when a twenty-four-day hunger strike allowed Mr. Navalny, 46, to receive treatment. for his back pain.

What will be the price to pay for this tiny victory? Since his return to Russia and his arrest in January 2021, the opponent has suffered incessant harassment and pressure, only escaping the direct physical violence which is customary for ordinary prisoners. At IK-6 in Melekhovo, where he was transferred in June 2022, the main weapon used to break him is placement at “punitive isolation” »the mitard, for periods of ten to fifteen days.

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Since he announced his desire to create a union for inmates and guards, the punishment is even systematic. Alexeï Navalny never spends more than a few days in the general regime, where he works as “seamstress”. The opponent is frequently sent back to prison the very day he is fired, for ever more bizarre pretexts: a badly buttoned uniform (he affirms that he is only given, on purpose, clothes that are too small), a court badly swept (in which, he says, the guards purposely scatter leaves), a tone deemed disrespectful…

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In Russia, Alexei Navalny suffers the ravages of the isolation regime