Aleksey Navalny, Russias most famous prisoner, is still not silenced. The Russian opposition leader answered sixteen questions in 54 handwritten sides.
“Its like a Chinese work camp, where everyone walks in the pass and hang cameras everywhere,” says Aleksej Navalny describes the penalty camp where hes been imprisoned at the New York Times for almost half a year. “There is constant control and a culture of treason prevails.”
Between meals and inspections, Navalny watches about eight hours of forced state television. He saw how the Putin and Biden summit was milked out in Geneva: world leaders would beg to see the Russian President. “Because no problem is solved without him,” Navalny writes. In the evening, war films and documentaries follow: “Then the red line of the ideology of Putins regime becomes clear to me: the replacement of the present and future with the past.”
The full interview can be read on his site navalny.com, which is blocked on the Russian Internet.
Navalny believes that the control device builds on activists: prisoners who work as informants with the prison board. They lure fellow prisoners. If someone flips and attacks the provocateur, its always on camera and follows a longer confinement. “The most important thing you need to learn here is not to admit to those provocations,” says Navalny, who will be released in two years now.
The sober tone in Navalnys letters contrasts sharply with the alarming reports about his health last spring. Because of a hernia, he could barely walk and after more than three weeks of hunger strike feared for his life. That commotion had an effect, Navalny said: “I am very grateful for that, because that was why I was treated by outside prison doctors.”
In addition to prison life, Navalny addresses the oppression of opposition and critical media, which has gained momentum a year ago since his poisoning. “In the short term, Putin has reached his goal, but it has harmed the country and its citizens,” says the anti-corruption fighter. “And they dont forget that.”
Navalnys organizations were labeled “extremist” in June and banned. Anyone who donated or otherwise involved in these organizations in the past year has been excluded from the upcoming Duma elections by a new law.
The West, according to Navalny, should introduce sanctions that do not affect the whole Russian economy, but only Putins closest henchmen: a “mafia” responsible for the oppression. “But their planes, yachts and billions in Western banks: everything stays in place,” the prisoner writes.