Politician Alexey Navalny, currently serving a sentence in the Melekhovo penitentiary in the Vladimir region, has been put in solitary confinement for “regularly unbuttoning the top button of his prison robe” while in the industrial zone, Navalny himself shared on Twitter.
“So I was summoned from my barrack to the commission, where they announced that the video footage showed me regularly unbuttoning the top button of my prison robe while in the industrial zone (the robe is just a few sizes too small for me). This, of course, characterizes me as an unrepentant, incorrigible villain. That is why the decision was made to place me in the special housing unit.
“It’s only 3 days so far, but in the middle of September I have a visit from my relatives, which I am supposed to have once every 4 months. No visits are allowed to those in the SHU, so they say that unless I "reconsider my attitude", it will become my permanent residence,” Navalny wrote.
Navalny also described the solitary confinement conditions in the Melekhovo penitentiary: “The SHU is a 2.5x3 meter concrete kennel. Most of the time it's unbearable in there because it's cold and damp. There’s water on the floor. I got the beach version - it's very hot and there's almost no air. The window is tiny, but the walls are too thick for any air flow - even the cobwebs don't move. There's no ventilation. At night you lie there and feel like a fish on the shore. The iron bunk is fastened to the wall, like in a train, but the lever that lowers it is outside.”
According to Navalny, the prisoners put in solitary confinement are not allowed visits, letters, or parcels, and even smoking is prohibited. “They only give me paper and pen for 1 hour and 15 minutes a day. The “walk” is just one hour in a similar cell, but with a piece of sky above. There are constant searches, I always need to keep my hands behind my back. <...> At 5 a.m. they take away your mattress and pillow (they call it "soft equipment") and raise your bunk. At 9 p.m. the bunk is lowered again and the mattress is returned,” Navalny wrote.
Last week, Navalny said to have created a labour union of convicts and prison workers Promzona. He clarified that he has always been in favour of unions because he thinks it is important “to push for better wages and working conditions”. He is currently the only member of the union. He added that the union had earned its first victory by managing to make the administration comply with prisoner working conditions: they changed the stools that convict sewers sit on during work to chairs with back support.