Putin moves only rival Navalny to torture prison in fresh clampdown on Russian dissent

Russia: Maria Pevchikh reveals Alexey Navalny is missing

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Mr Navalny was arrested in January 2021 upon returning from Germany, where he recovered from nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin, and handed a two-and-a-half-year sentence for a parole violation. The anti-Putin campaigner and opposition leader was then sentenced to nine years in prison for alleged fraud and contempt of court in March 2022.

After his sentence, Mr Navalny was jailed in Pokrov penal colony where he was serving 11 years for his alleged crimes.

However, he is now thought to be locked up at Melekhovo, a strict regime maximum security penal colony known for regular brutal beatings and the rape of male inmates.

Leonid Volkov, Mr Navalny’s chief of staff, said on Telegram that the campaigner’s lawyer had tried to visit him at Pokrov but was told “there is no such convict”.

He said: “Where Alexei is now, and which colony he is being taken to, we don’t know.”

On Tuesday Russian news agencies citing Sergei Yazhan, chairman of the regional Public Monitoring Commission, reported Mr Navalny was moved to the IK-6 prison in the village of Melekhovo in the Vladimir region.

Independent media outlet Mediazona revealed in 2021 allegations of systematic torture and sexual violence at the facility known as Correctional Colony No. 6.

In May, Mr Navalny said he was afraid Putin would send him there, and posted online: “Prisoners from Melekhovo maximum security colony write that they are equipping a ‘prison in prison’ for me there.”

Mr Navalny’s spokesperson Kira Aleksandrovna Yarmysh previously shared details about the alleged brutality of the “monstrous place”.

She claimed that in 2018, prisoner Gor Ovakimyan was murdered in the prison after days of torture.

Ms Yarmysh said: “The colony administration concealed his death from his relatives for almost a week.

“When the family did find Ovakimian’s body in the morgue, they saw stun gun marks, broken fingers and toes, damaged genitals, and bruises all over his body. The death certificate listed the cause of death as ‘pneumonia’.

“Ovakimyan told his family that he was being tortured – beaten, hung on a rack – for refusing to cooperate with the administration and writing complaints.”

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Speaking to Mediazona, former convict Ivan Fomin claimed the guards made him refuse a lawyer under the threat of rape.

He claimed that they told him if he did not comply “they would rape me, and tie my legs and hands from behind.

“I would lie down, and they would beat my heels and ass.

“After that, if I did not confess, they would [rape] me with a [spade] handle, and then put this in my mouth.”

He also says he witnessed another prisoner being beaten with piping on his heels and bottom and then “raped” with the piping.

It comes after reports emerged suggesting Putin was “shaking” with “unsteady feet” during an awards ceremony in Moscow.

Videos of the ceremony showed the 69-year-old Russian leader delivering an address during an award ceremony on Sunday.

Reports cited that Putin was wobbling while presenting an award to Russian filmmaker Nikita Mikhalkov.

Mike Sington, from NBCUniversal, shared the video which showed Putin standing unsteadily on his feet during his speech.

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