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Navalny says he will be transferred to strictest prison cell for 12 months

Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny. (Moscow City Court Press Office/Tass via ZUMA Press/TNS)
September 28, 2023

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Jailed Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny says he was informed a day after a court rejected his appeal against a 19-year sentence that he will be transferred to the strictest possible prison cell for one year.

“Yesterday, right after my appeal, I was taken to a commission and told that due to my incorrigibility I will be transferred to an ‘EPKT’ for a period of 12 months,” he said on September 27 on X, formerly Twitter, referring to cells widely considered to have the harshest confinement conditions.

“A year of EPKT is the strictest possible punishment in all kinds of prisons,” he said.

It was unclear if the punishment will be carried out in a special-regime prison or in the maximum-security IK-6 prison 250 kilometers east of Moscow where he is currently held.

Navalny has been in and out of solitary confinement in recent months, and his allies say his health has deteriorated.

Last month he had his sentence more than doubled to 19 years, with the court also ruling to send him to a harsher “special-regime” facility, rather than the maximum-security prison where he currently is held.

A court in Moscow on September 26 rejected Navalny’s appeal of the sentence, which came after the Moscow City Court on August 4 convicted him of extremism charges, ruling that his previous sentences will be served concurrently.

The ruling came 18 months into Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, which brought with it an unprecedented crackdown on dissenting voices. Navalny has repeatedly denounced the Kremlin’s military offensive from behind bars and called on Russians not to lose “the will to resist.”

The charges against Navalny are widely seen as retribution for his efforts to expose what he describes as the pervasive lawlessness, corruption, and repression by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his political system.

Navalny was Russia’s loudest opposition voice and galvanized huge anti-government rallies before he was jailed.

His previous sentence was handed down in 2021 after he arrived in Moscow from Germany, where he had been recovering from a poisoning attack he blamed on the Kremlin.

Before the most recent conviction, he was serving a combined 11 1/2 years for embezzlement and violating the terms of his parole while he was in Germany being treated for the poisoning.