Tuesday March 14, under the fresh wind of spring, the crowd gathered Square Michel Caldaguès in Paris, near a box of 2.50 m by 3 m, a 99% authentic replica of the prison cell of Alexeï Navalny, Russian opponent, imprisoned for a fabricated affair.
99% identical replica
His brother Oleg, who spent 3 and a half years in prison for Alexei’s political activity, reproduced his brother Alexei’s cell to show the international community the inhuman conditions in which political prisoners who speak out are placed. against the policy of Vladimir Putin. Alexei Navalny spent 91 days in the SHIZO (Russian punishment cell) in 2022. It is the most severe form of punishment that exists in Russia’s prison system.
Ivan Zhdanov, director of the Anticorruption Foundation, took the floor, with notes of humor that “only the Russian people can grasp”. “Why did we decide to build this replica of the cell? Because we realized that when you talk about the Russian prison in the West, there are few people who really understand what it means, because the Russian prison already involves the conditions of torture”, a- he declared. According to Ivan Zhdanov, it is important to show this installation to the world and to tell the story of Alexei Navalny, in times of war, “when there are so many terrible things that happen”, because all these things are linked: the Russian political regime, the freedom of Alexei Navalny and the ongoing war with Russia.
Symbol of Free Russia
Alexei Navalny has become a symbol of free Russia as well as of political prisoners, unjustly condemned by the Kremlin. Most of the latter are not known internationally, but all these people have paid a high price for their political convictions. ” The trial of our colleague, Lilia Chanisheva, politician, continues. There are a large number of political prisoners who are not mentioned in the media, Alexei is the best known of them”, explained Ivan Zhdanov. When we say “freedom to Alexeï Navalny, we say freedom to all political prisoners”, he added.
The replica that arrived in Paris, after being exhibited for a month in Berlin, aims to show the inhabitants of the capital that in Russia there are politicians who speak out against the war, who are imprisoned in catastrophic conditions and who fight with pride against Putin. “Freedom for Alexeï Navalny, freedom for all political prisoners and no to war! asks Ivan, taking a small key out of his pocket. According to him, usually, the opening of the facilities becomes a festive moment, but on this day, it represents above all the hope of change of power in Russia and victory against Putin.
In Alexei Navalny’s cell, there is almost no ventilation. The bunk bed is fixed to the wall during the day and turns into a table, rusty sink, squat toilet. Excerpts from the regulations broadcast at regular intervals by loudspeaker. The prisoner can only get water three times a day, one glass with a spoon and a bowl, for each meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Visits and parcels from outside are prohibited, convicts are only entitled to a pen and paper for 35 minutes a day, and only one book for the entire period of detention. SHIZO is a place where most of the tortures and murders happen.
They continue to detain Navalny there under the most absurd and far-fetched excuses: an undone button on his uniform or for not immediately putting his hands behind his back while walking. However, the real reason is known: Navalny is being punished for defying Putin and exposing his crimes. During the trial which sentenced him to nine and a half years in prison at the beginning of March, the best-known opponent of the Russian president delivered an anti-war speech against the invasion of Ukraine.
Oscar 2023 awarded to “Navalny”
The 2023 Oscar for best documentary was awarded to “Navalny”, by Canadian Daniel Roher, a film devoted to the poisoning of the Russian opponent, in 2020, and his fight against Vladimir Putin. “The Oscar that was awarded to the film Navalny on Sunday allows us to talk more and more about Navalny in the international political arena. Someone made a very fair comment, saying that it is easier to get an Oscar than to win the case in the Russian court,” said Ivan Zhdanov.