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Prison monitors refuse to visit jailed father of top Navalny aide

Source: MBX Media

Rostov-on-Don’s Public Monitoring Commission (ONK), the local watchdog group tasked with monitoring the observance of prisoners’ rights, has refused to visit 66-year-old Yuri Zhdanov in pre-trial detention.

Zhdanov, whose son Ivan is the director of Alexey Navalny’s anti-corruption non-profit, was remanded in custody earlier this week on abuse of office charges, and has since complained about the conditions of his detention. According to Zhdanov junior, his father “wasn’t given some basic things,” and his four-person cell contained five people, resulting in the detainees being forced to sleep in shifts.

Nevertheless, in a comment to MBX Media, the chairman of Rostov-on-Don’s ONK, Igor Omelchenko, said that none of the organization’s monitors would be going to visit Zhdanov senior. 

“No one is going to see him. He’s not some star, such that we would send people to see him separately. We have a letter from the FSIN [Federal Penitentiary Service] headquarters, yesterday the department visited him, he’s in a four-person cell with four people. He doesn’t have any problems, everything is fine. The information that the lawyers give, well, that’s the lawyer’s false information,” Omelchenko said.

“Everything you need to know about ONK members. They’re just torturers' accomplices,” Ivan Zhdanov said in a Twitter comment on this statement. 

On Friday, March 26, Yuri Zhdanov was detained in the city of Rostov-on-Don and his home was searched. Three days later, Ivan Zhdanov reported that his father had been arrested on criminal charges of abuse of office, in connection with the period when he held the post of deputy head of the Iskateley township in the Nenets Okrug.

State investigators maintain that Yuri Zhdanov recommended a local woman and her family be allocated an apartment through social housing, when in fact, as it was later revealed, they were already receiving a housing subsidy. (The housing contract was terminated as a result, and the apartment was returned to the local administration through the courts). Ivan Zhdanov has blamed the Kremlin for his father’s arrest and believes that his political activities are the reason for the charges against Zhdanov senior.

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