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Navalny files lawsuit against prison for withholding his copy of the Quran

Imprisoned opposition politician Alexey Navalny has filed a lawsuit against Pokrov’s Penal Colony No. 2, where he is serving a 2.5 year sentence, for withholding his copy of the Quran. 

According to a social media post uploaded on Navalny’s behalf on Tuesday, April 13, Navalny decided to “deeply study and understand” the Muslim holy book while in prison. He brought a copy of the Quran with him to the penal colony, along with other texts, but the prison administration is withholding his books, citing the need to check them for extremist content.

This check takes three months, the post underscores.

“‘You’ll check the Quran for extremism too? This is stupid and illegal!’ — ‘Each book must be checked for extremism. You have a television in your unit, why not watch it.’ For a month I’ve been having this dialogue constantly. I wrote another statement to the director and filed a lawsuit. How much can I take, what now, I can’t read my own Quran?”

Earlier, Navalny reported that during his first three weeks in prison, the only book he was allowed was the Bible. 

Alexey Navalny has been accused of Islamophobia, due to his past statements about Muslim extremists, and migrants from Central Asia and the North Caucasus. In February 2021, the human rights group Amnesty International rescinded Navalny’s “prisoner of conscience” status on the grounds that his past statements and advocacy of anti-migrant positions constitute hate speech. Navlany’s associates maintained that Amnesty International’s decision played into the hands of the Russian authorities.

Navalny has been in custody at Penal Colony No. 2 in Pokrov (in the Vladimir region) since mid-March. He was imprisoned under a reinstated sentence in February for allegedly violating probation. The opposition politician has complained about his health deteriorating in prison. On March 31, he declared a hunger strike, seeking access to a trusted doctor. According to his associates, Navalny has already lost 33 pounds (15 kilograms) while in prison.

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‘Anything to further my Communist agenda’ Another day’s developments in Navalny’s loss of ‘prisoner of conscience’ status at Amnesty International

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