Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s spokesperson announced Tuesday that Russian authorities opened a criminal case against Navalny for removing another prisoner from his cell. Navalny’s team called the situation a “provocation” and said that Navalny was previously warned about a potential set-up.
In a series of tweets posted Tuesday, Navalny’s spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, explained that Russian authorities placed a prisoner with poor personal hygiene into Navalny’s cell and then obligated Navalny to remove the inmate. After Navalny refused to make contact with the other inmate, prison authorities called in a rapid response team. Yarmysh said that “[Navalny] was hit and dragged into the cell (all this was filmed on a video recorder). [Navalny] did not use physical violence against the convict, but grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and dragged him to the door”
The episode resulted in the lawyer and anti-corruption activist being informed that he would be prosecuted for “[Disorganization] of the Activity of Penitentiary Institutions,” which carries a potential 5-year prison sentence.
This crime can be found in Article 321.1 of the Russian Criminal Code, which states:
1. The application of violence, not dangerous for the convict’s life and health, or the threat of the application of violence with respect to him in order to prevent the convict’s reformation or by way of revenge for his rendering assistance to the administration of the institution or of the body of the criminal-executive system… shall be punished by the deprivation of freedom for a term of up to five years.
Navalny’s lawyer, Vadim Kobazev, previously tweeted on April 11 that a prison employee warned Navalny in advance that a set-up involving another prisoner was being orchestrated against him. Kobazev warned Russian authorities about the impending incident and later tweeted his disappointment with them after authorities failed to act.
This is the 10th case being bought against Navalny currently. Navalny is facing 35 years in prison on other charges. Yarmsch says that the Russian government is fabricating charges against Navalny to increase his time in prison.
Navalny, the leader of the opposition party Russia of the Future, is currently serving out a nine-year prison sentence. He faces potentially 30 more years if convicted in an Investigative Committee of Russia criminal case involving charges of promoting and calling for terrorism, publicly calling for extremism, financing extremist activities and rehabilitating Nazism.
The latest charges against Navalny come as a Russian court Tuesday denied Wall Street Journal (WSJ) journalist Evan Gershkovich’s appeal of his detention and espionage charges.