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Alexey Navalny files another lawsuit against Russian prison officials

Opposition politician Alexey Navalny has filed a lawsuit against the staff of the prison where he is being held for allegedly preventing his lawyers from bringing cell phones and laptop computers to their meetings. Navalny has been in custody in Correctional Facility No. 3 (IK-3) in Vladimir since his transfer to a prisoners’ hospital there in mid-April.

Navalny’s lawyer, Vadim Kobzev, told Novaya Gazeta about the lawsuit, adding that according to a decision from the Russian Supreme Court, lawyers are allowed to bring cell phones and laptops into prison facilities. 

“During the entire period of Navalny’s detention in IK-3, lawyers visited him almost every day and demanded permission to bring in a phone and a laptop. Each time we were refused. […] Navalny is asking for the prison’s actions banning the technological devices to be recognized as illegal.”  

The lawsuit was filed with the Oktyabrsky District Court in Vladimir on May 12. A record of the claim has already been published on the court’s website. A spokesperson for the court declined to comment on the claim for RIA Novosti, saying “The lawsuit was filed yesterday. Until the judge accepts it for proceedings, there will be no comments.”

In April, Navalny’s defense lawyers filed three lawsuits against the administration of Penal Colony No.2, a prison in the city of Pokrov where Navalny was in custody before his transfer to IK-3. The first lawsuit urges the court to deem Navalny’s registration as “liable to escape” illegal. The second challenges the prison administration’s decision to withhold Navalny’s books, including his copy of the Quran. The third lawsuit has to do with the prison’s “illegal censorship” of the newspapers Navalny receives (he has previously complained about articles being cut out of issues of Novaya Gazeta and Kommersant).

In May, a group of Russian lawmakers submitted a bill to the State Duma that would prohibit lawyers and other legal representatives from bringing any “communication devices,” as well as cameras and audio equipment, into prison facilities. The authors of the bill said that this measure would help prevent people from smuggling cell phones into prisons.