On Wednesday, two days earlier than Russian authorities reported his dying, Aleksei A. Navalny was sentenced to a different time period in a particular punishment cell in an Arctic jail, a notoriously harsh type of incarceration usually used to pressure inmates into subjugation.

The sentencing marked the twenty seventh time that jail authorities had despatched Mr. Navalny right into a punishment cell, in line with Kira Yarmysh, his spokeswoman. If he have been to have served this final time period in full, he would have spent a complete of 308 days in comparable cells, Ms. Yarmysh mentioned.

According to Eva Merkacheva, a Russian journalist who has coated the nation’s prisons extensively, inmates in such cells are sometimes left chilly and hungry, and people situations might account for studies of Mr. Navalny’s dying.

”I feel his limitless transfers to a punishment cell might positively result in this,” Ms. Merkacheva instructed MSK1, a information web site.

Although incarcerated, Mr. Navalny had continued to submit messages on social media by passing notes to his visiting legal professionals, and he had described the brutal situations in punishment cells.

Jail authorities used trivial transgressions as causes to punish Mr. Navalny, he wrote in one Instagram post. He had been punished, he mentioned, for sporting an unbuttoned gown, for not strolling together with his arms behind his again whereas being transferred between cells, and for failing to introduce himself correctly.

Other than spending time in a frigid, cramped cell, inmates in punishment cells are additionally restricted of their potential to train, spending time in a tiny walled courtyard with a roof of jail bars. In his new penal colony within the Arctic, as an example, Mr. Navalny was allowed to exit solely within the mornings, whereas it was nonetheless darkish and the temperatures have been at their lowest level.

“It’s by no means been colder than -25°F.,” Mr. Navalny wrote on social media in January, describing his walks. “Even at that temperature you’ll be able to stroll for greater than half an hour, however solely when you have time to develop a brand new nostril, ears and fingers.”

In his posts, Mr. Navalny known as his confinement to punishment cells a type of torture, although he additionally joked cavalierly that it was a possibility for him to meditate.

However harsh jail situations did harm Mr. Navalny’s well being. He was first despatched to a penal colony in March 2021, simply months after being poisoned by a nerve agent that almost killed him. Following the poisoning, Mr. Navalny misplaced vital weight and needed to relearn fundamental actions, similar to the way to use his fingers together with his telephone.

Throughout his first weeks within the penal colony, Mr. Navalny’s well being rapidly deteriorated. Leonid Volkov, his chief of workers, said that weeks after he was transferred to his first penal colony, Mr. Navalny suffered from acute again and leg ache.

Whereas imprisoned, Mr. Navalny mentioned that he was not receiving correct medical remedy, and declared a starvation strike to protest it. By the point he stopped it greater than three weeks later, he mentioned, he was left like “a skeleton strolling, swaying, in its cell.”

In June 2022, Mr. Navalny was transferred to a harsher jail, the place issues together with his backbone deteriorated, he said, as a result of he needed to spend most of his time together with his actions constrained by the tight confines of the punishment cell. Docs that got here to see him didn’t disclose his prognosis, he mentioned, including that he was additionally administered undisclosed pictures.

In January 2023, Mr. Navalny’s spouse, Yulia, mentioned in a post on Instagram that her husband was sick with a excessive fever and that as an alternative of serving to him, jail officers transferred one other sick particular person into his cell. The authorities refused to switch him to a medical facility on the time, Mr. Navalny mentioned, and a bunch of Russian medical doctors wrote letters demanding the authorities deal with him.

For a time, his situation improved, however weeks later an ambulance needed to be known as due to an acute abdomen situation, Mr. Navalny’s lawyer said. Final December, Mr. Navalny misplaced consciousness in his cell, his spokeswoman mentioned.

“We don’t know what it was,” she said on social media. “However given that he’s disadvantaged of meals and is saved in a punishment cell with out air flow, with minimal walks, it seems to be like a collapse from starvation.”

In December, Mr. Navalny spent virtually three weeks touring throughout the Russian jail system being transferred to his new penal colony within the Arctic. Upon arrival, he said that the journey was “fairly exhausting.”




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