Putin ‘killing Alexei Navalny slowly’ with brutal prison regime

Vladimir Putin has been accused of “killing Alexei Navalny slowly” after the Russian opposition leader claimed he is being moved to solitary confinement for six months. Mr Navalny, who has been jailed for nine years after being convicted of fraud charges that critics said were revenge for his exposure of Kremlin corruption, said the latest move would mean he will go “more than a year without a visit” after being denied company for the last eight months.

In a message that was passed on to his supporters and posted on Twitter, Mr Navalny said he was being “transferred to a cell-type facility for the maximum possible term of six months”.

He said: “No visits are allowed there. This means more than a year without a visit. Even maniacs and serial killers serving life sentences have the right to receive a visit, but I don’t.”

Reports from the opposition leader’s lawyers and supporters have suggested that Mr Navalny’s health has been significantly deteriorating in recent months.

Vadim Kobzev, Navalny’s lawyer, said the opposition leader was suffering severe stomach pains and that he had lost 7kg (15lb) in weight.

He accused prison doctors of treating him with “huge doses” of inappropriate antibiotics and added that the Kremlin was seeking to “destroy Navalny’s health”.

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“Putin tried to kill Navalny quickly,” Kira Yarmysh, Navalny’s spokeswoman, wrote on social media. “Now he is killing him slowly and torturing him.”

The Russian opposition leader is currently being held at the maximum-security IK-6 penal colony at Melekhovo, 115 miles east of Moscow.

In the last six months, he has spent more than 100 days in punishment cells that preclude visitations.

Such reprimands have been handed out reportedly for bogus infractions of prison rules, such as failing to do up his top button and washing at the wrong times.

An open letter signed by almost 500 Russian doctors last month and sent to Vladimir Putin demanded that Mr Navalny be given satisfactory healthcare.

The Russian opposition leader at the time alleged that prison officials were deliberately placing him in cells with inmates suffering from infectious diseases.

During a court appearance last week, allies of Mr Navalny noted that he looked gaunt during the video link.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Navalny has spoken out regularly against the war, calling it a crime and urging Russians to protest.

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Despite the recent move to solitary confinement, however, Mr Navalny has refused to back down.

He said: “When something like this happens to you, you realise how important it is to fight this unscrupulous regime.

“[You realise] how important it is to do just about anything in order to throw the yoke of these scoundrels off Russia and dispel the illusion that they have planted in the heads of millions.”

He added: “Let us try to remain strong and do all we can every day.”

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