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Kremlin foe Navalny, smiling and joking, seems in courtroom through video hyperlink from an Arctic jail

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TALLINN, Estonia — A smiling and joking Alexei Navalny appeared in courtroom Wednesday through video hyperlink from the Arctic penal colony the place he’s serving a 19-year sentence, the primary time the Russian opposition chief has been proven on digital camera since his switch to the distant jail.

Russian information shops launched photos of Navalny, in black jail garb and with a buzz lower, on a stay TV feed from the “particular regime” penal colony within the city of Kharp, within the Yamalo-Nenets area about 1,900 kilometers (1,200 miles) northeast of Moscow.

On the listening to, Navalny cracked jokes concerning the Arctic climate and requested if officers at his former jail threw a celebration when he was transferred.

The video was beamed to a listening to in a courtroom a whole bunch of miles away within the city of Kovrov, within the Vladimir area of central Russia, about 240 kilometers (150 miles) east of Moscow, close to Penal Colony No. 6, the place Navalny had been held till final month. The listening to was for certainly one of many lawsuits he filed in opposition to the penal colony — this explicit one challenged certainly one of his stints in a “punishment cell.”

In video footage and media experiences from the listening to, Navalny, 47, talked in his regular sardonic tone about how a lot he had missed officers at his {old} jail and the Kovrov courtroom officers, and he joked concerning the harsh jail in Russia’s far north.

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“Situations right here (on the penal colony in Kharp) — and that’s a dig at you, esteemed defendants — are higher than at IK-6 in Vladimir,” Navalny deadpanned, utilizing the penal colony’s acronym.

“There may be one downside, although — and I don’t know which courtroom to file a swimsuit about it — the climate is unhealthy right here,” he added with a chuckle.

He was transferred in December to the “particular regime” penal colony in Kharp — the very best safety stage of prisons in Russia. Navalny, who’s President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest political foe, is serving time on costs of extremism.

Navalny spent months in isolation at Jail Colony No. 6 earlier than his switch. He was repeatedly positioned in a tiny punishment cell over alleged minor infractions, like buttoning his jail uniform incorrect. Additionally they refused to provide him his mail, disadvantaged him of writing provides, denied him meals he had ordered and paid for along with common meals, and would not permit visits from kinfolk, Navalny argued in his lawsuits difficult his remedy.

Within the one heard Wednesday, Navalny contested a stint in solitary confinement, and the choose dominated in opposition to him and sided with jail officers — similar to in different such lawsuits he filed.

Russian unbiased information website Mediazona reported that the courtroom performed a video of an incident final yr wherein Navalny lashed out at a jail official who took away his pen. The official then accused Navalny of insulting him, and the politician was put within the punishment cell for 12 days.

In keeping with the report, Navalny admitted Wednesday that he should not have “yelled” on the official and “overdid it” by calling him names, however he argued nonetheless that he was allowed to have the pen and should not have been punished by jail officers.

Navalny additionally requested the penal colony’s representatives whether or not they celebrated his switch with a “get together, or a karaoke get together,” drawing laughter from the choose, Mediazona reported.

Navalny has been behind bars since January 2021, when he returned to Moscow after recuperating in Germany from nerve agent poisoning that he blamed on the Kremlin. Earlier than his arrest, he campaigned in opposition to official corruption, organized main anti-Kremlin protests and ran for public workplace.

He has since acquired three jail sentences, rejecting all the costs in opposition to him as politically motivated.

On Tuesday, Navalny stated in a social media assertion relayed from behind bars that jail officers in Kharp accused him of refusing to “introduce himself consistent with protocol,” and in addition ordered him to serve seven days in an remoted punishment cell.

”The thought that Putin can be happy with sticking me right into a barracks within the far north and can cease torturing me within the punishment confinement was not solely cowardly, however naive as effectively,” he stated.

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