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Human rights monitors report protest at special detention center where Navalny supporters are being held

Detainees at a special detention center in the village of Sakharovo — where the authorities sent protesters arrested amid the mass demonstrations in support of imprisoned opposition politician Alexey Navalny — staged a protest on the night of February 4. This was reported by Marina Litvinovich, a member of Moscow’s Public Monitoring Commission (ONK). 

“Prior to our arrival the situation was very acute, people were protesting they were knocking, and shouting. We went through all of the rebellious cells, recorded all of the problems, spoke with people, went to solve their problems, and partially solved them immediately.”

Litvinovich also shared a video filmed inside the special detention center during the protest; on the recording, you can hear people banging on metal surfaces.

Warning. The following video contains loud noises.

According to Litvinovich, there are more than 800 people in custody at the detention center in total. All of the people she saw (about two thirds of the inmates) have been provided with a bed, a mattress, a pillow, and a blanket. She also noted that while there are many problems at the Sakharovo jail, “they are being resolved slowly.”

The detainees also staged protests on February 3, reported The Insider editor Oleg Pshenichny, who was placed under administrative arrest after the protest on January 31. According to his account, on February 3, the detainees shouted, demanding their phones and other belongings. Pshenichny said that the detainees who were brought to the detention center on February 2 were only given toothbrushes a day later; they were given towels and access to their phones a day after that.

On February 5, OVD-Info reported that the poor conditions at the detention center in Sakharovo had prompted one of the detainees there, Evgeny Minnik, to declare a hunger strike. According to his friend, Minnik wasn’t given water for two days, was fed poor quality food, and wasn’t allowed to contact his family. 

People serving administrative arrest sentences were sent to Sakhorovo, which is located about 80 kilometers (49 miles) from the Russian capital, after special detention centers in Moscow ran out of space. Other detainees have been sent to the town of Yegoryevsk, which is located about 110 kilometers (68 miles) from Moscow. 

According to reports from OVD-Info, police vans bringing detainees to both Yegoryevsk and Sakharovo were lined up outside of the respective detention centers for hours on end. The detainees weren’t allowed out of the vans to go to the toilet while waiting to be processed. In addition, the Yegoryevsk jail’s administration reportedly refused to accept female detainees. Novaya Gazeta later reported that the detention center was already full. 

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