Putin's Fiercest Critic Undergoing 'Torture' in Prison—Lawyer

Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny has irreverently described conditions at the notorious prison he is held, but his aides have said that despite his jaunty social media post, his incarceration is "torture."

This month, the anti-corruption campaigner and fierce critic of Vladimir Putin was transferred to a maximum-security IK-6 prison in the Vladimir region village of Melekhovo, about 155 miles east of Moscow and on Friday wrote about his ordeal.

"I live like Putin and Medvedev. At least I think so when I look at the fence around my barrack," Navalny wrote in a Twitter and Instagram post as he compared the 6-meter-high fence that hems him in with the barriers surrounding the palaces his FBK anti-corruption foundation say belong to the current and former Russian presidents.

"Putin has ministers sitting in the waiting room for six hours, and my lawyers have to wait for five or six hours to see me. I have a loudspeaker on my barrack that plays songs like 'Glory to the FSB,' and I think so does Putin," he said referring to the country's main spy agency, "that's where the similarities end, though."

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny
Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny in Moscow's City Court, May 24,2022, in Moscow, Russia. He has mocked Vladimir Putin in his latest post from prison. Getty Images

Navalny detailed his daily routine which includes working at a sewing machine for seven hours, after he which he would stay seated on a wooden bench underneath a portrait of Putin. Even on his day off, he would have to "sit in a room on a wooden bench for 10 hours".

"Putin, as you know, sleeps until 10 am, then swims in the pool and eats cottage cheese with honey, " Navalny said, "but for me, 10 am is lunchtime. Because work starts at 6:40."

Despite complaining of back pain, Navalny said, "I'm an optimist and look for the bright side even in my dark existence. I have as much fun as I can. While sewing, I've memorized Hamlet's monologue in English."

He joked that fellow inmates said that when quoting the line from the Shakespearean play "in thy orisons be all my sins remembered" that it "looks like I'm summoning a demon."

"But I have no such thoughts—summoning a demon would be a violation of the internal regulations," Navalny added.

In sharing the post on Friday, Navalny's spokesperson Kira Yarmysh wrote, "Alexei is joking as usual, but reading his post is monstrous. His stay in IK-6 is literally torture."

Meanwhile, his aide Leonid Volkov wrote "this is all very serious and dangerous."

He tweeted that Navalny is not one to complain, and "he writes about what is happening in such an easy style, but this is really very bad news."

Newsweek has contacted Leonid Volkov and Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) for comment.

Navalny was handed a nine-year sentence in March on embezzlement and contempt of court charges that were internationally condemned. This came on top of a two-and-a-half year sentence for allegedly violating parole conditions.

He was arrested in January 2021 after returning from Germany where he had been treated for a nerve-agent poisoning that has been blamed on the Kremlin.

Earlier this month, his legal team had expressed concern after they were not informed about his transfer from the IK-2 colony in the Vladimir region, located around 60 miles east of Moscow, where he had been previously held.