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Lawyer group signs open letter demanding Putin end “blatant torture” of Alexei Navalny

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A group of lawyers has signed an open letter demanding an end to the “blatant torture” of opposition politician Alexei Navalny, who is currently serving a lengthy prison term at a maximum security facility in Russia's Vladimir region.

The group demanded that Russian President Vladimir Putin stop sending Navalny to a punishment cell and allow doctors from outside the prison to examine and treat him. The appeal was published by one of its authors, Viktor Drozdov.

“We cannot and do not have the right to calmly look at the violation of the constitutional rights and violation of the human dignity of Alexei Navalny, who was deprived of his lawyer's status in connection with his criminal prosecution in the context of his active political activities in Russia,” the appeal said.

The lawyers pointed out that the conditions of Navalny's detention in the penal colony “involve harm to his health and pose a threat to his life.”

“Continuous detention in the punishment cell for an incredibly long time is blatant torture, causing serious harm to his health and posing a direct threat to [Navalny’s] life. The reasons for his placement in the punitive confinement cell are not just far-fetched, but openly demonstrative, aimed not at correcting the prisoner, but at mocking him,” the appeal continued.

According to the lawyers, Navalny's physical appearance “attests to his detention in inhumane conditions,” which “cannot lead to anything but concern for his life and health.”

The group demanded that “the information blockade around Navalny's conditions” be lifted, a public inspection of the prison staff's actions be carried out, and that the people responsible for Navalny's detention be named.

Earlier, over 600 doctors signed an open letter to Putin demanding that medical personnel be allowed to see Navalny and that the prison stop sending him to the punishment cell.

“We demand to stop humiliating Alexei Navalny, we demand that Alexei no longer be sent to the punishment cell, we demand that civilian doctors be allowed to see him and, if needed, transfer him to a regular hospital for treatment. We demand that Alexey Navalny's right to complete medical care be realized and that the demands of the articles of Russia’s Constitution, of which you are the guarantor, be fulfilled,” the doctors wrote, referring to Putin.

On December 31, Navalny was sent to a punishment cell for the tenth time. The current 15-day stint was justified by Navalny washing his face half an hour ahead of the official prison schedule.

Alexei Navalny fell ill with a respiratory infection after a sick prisoner was transferred to his cell. Following a public outcry, he was finally given antibiotics and hot water on January 12. The following day, Navalny was also examined by the head of a tuberculosis hospital. However, prison guards have refused pass over medicine Navalny’s lawyer had previously brought his client.

The opposition leader and anti-corruption activist is serving two sentences for violating parole and embezzlement at the IK-6 maximum security prison in Vladimir – close to 260 kilometers east of Moscow.

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