Jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny has been thrown into a punishment cell for refusing to fasten his top button and encouraging fellow inmates to form a trade union.
According to Mail Online, it was revealed in a post that Navalny was summoned by prison officials and told that video surveillance showed he regularly unbuttoned his prison clothes while in the work area.
This comes days after he announced setting up a labour union for convicts, of which he said he was the only member at the time.
Navalny said the union has successfully argued for replacing backless stools with chairs in the prison’s sewing shop where he works.
According to the post on Monday August 15, the union activity was the real reason prison officials sent him to solitary confinement.
‘The Kremlin wants to see its gulag consisting of voiceless slaves. And here I am, instead of begging for pardon, uniting some people and demanding that some laws be observed,’ he said.
‘This certainly characterises me as a hopeless villain. So, a decision has been made to send me to punitive solitary confinement’ for three days, the post read.
If Navalny ‘doesn’t change (his) attitude’, his stay there would be extended, prison officials told him, according to the post.
The post described solitary as ‘the most severe punishment in the legal prison hierarchy’ – a small concrete cell, which ‘is very hot and there is almost no air’.
There is a metal bed attached to a wall, and a mattress and a pillow are only brought at 9pm and taken away at 5am.
‘Visitation is now allowed, letters are not allowed, parcels are not allowed. It is the only place in prison where even smoking is not allowed,’ the post read.
The only possessions at Navalny’s disposal are ‘a mug and a book’, the post said, and he has a pen and some paper for just over an hour a day.
The book he is reading is 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari, he added.
The solitary confinement cell is a 2.5 x 3 metre concrete kennel. Most of the time it’s unbearable in there because it’s cold and damp. There’s water on the floor. I got the beach version – it’s very hot and there’s almost no air,’ Navalny wrote.
‘The window is tiny, but the walls are too thick for any air flow – even the cobwebs don’t move.’ he added
Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critic inside Russia, is serving an 11-1/2 year sentence after being found guilty of parole violations and fraud, and contempt of court charges.
He says all the charges were fabricated as a pretext to jail him in order to thwart his political ambitions.