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Alexey Navalny issues statement from Moscow prison

Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny has written a statement from Moscow’s Matrosskaya Tishina prison, where he is currently being held in pre-trial detention. Navalny published his statement in a post on Instagram on Tuesday, January 19.

In his post, Navalny talks about the conditions inside the detention center, comparing them to the Charité Hospital in Berlin where he was treated after being poisoned with a Novichok-type nerve agent in August 2020.

Hello everyone from the famous special block of Matrosskaya Tishina — Kremlin Central. I read about it in books and now I’m here myself — the Russian life. Basically, it’s very similar to the place where I woke up a few months ago. A small room [where] they don't let you out. A window, an iron bed. Though this bed doesn’t have a grey remote that changes the position of your back and legs. But here they aren’t sticking needles with tubes in my body and aren’t connecting wires to me (at least not yet). And they also speak my native language. A big plus.

The opposition figure said that he doesn’t regret returning to Russia from Germany, calling it a rational decision.

I couldn’t have done otherwise, and there’s no pathos in this, nor sacrifice, nor fatalism. It’s a completely rational choice. I refuse to put up with the lawlessness of the authorities [in] my country. I refuse to stay silent, listening to the shameless lies of Putin and his friends, mired in corruption.

Human rights monitors visited Navalny in prison earlier in the day on Tuesday. “Navalny said that the institution’s staff aren’t putting him under any moral or physical pressure,” Alexey Melnikov from Moscow’s public monitoring commission wrote on Telegram after the visit.

At the same time, another public monitoring commission member warned about the conditions at Matrosskaya Tishina. “This is a very strict SIZO [pre-trial detention center], in which a prisoner’s every step, every movement, is controlled,” wrote Marina Litvinovich on Facebook. She also added that prisoners at the facility have complained repeatedly about lack of access to medical care.

Alexey Navalny flew home to Moscow from Berlin on Sunday, January 17, after spending five months in Germany recovering from chemical nerve agent poisoning. Police detained him at Sheremetyevo International Airport upon arrival and the next day he was remanded in custody until February 15 at the request of the Federal Penitentiary Service.

Russia’s prison authorities are seeking to revoke Navalny’s probation in Yves Rocher case and incarcerate him under a reinstated sentence on the grounds that he violated the terms of his probation.

In 2014, Alexey Navalny and his brother Oleg were found guilty of embezzlement and laundering funds stolen from two Russian companies associated with the French cosmetics brand “Yves Rocher.” Oleg Navalny was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison and Alexey Navalny was given 3.5 years probation. In 2017, the European Court of Human Rights declared the verdicts “unjust” and ordered the Russian authorities to pay the Navalny brothers compensation. Their sentences were never overturned, however.

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