Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny He compares a Russian prison to a Chinese labor camp and says he is forced to watch eight hours of state television a day.
Navalny, who built his political career on exposing corruption in Russia, is held in a maximum security prison colony in Pokrov, 100 km east of Moscow.
In a comment last week for The Guardian I wrote from prison, Navalny He called on the West to take action against corruption And crack down on the oligarchs.
This week he told The New York Times Gone are the days of hard labor in Soviet labor camps, replaced by what he called the “psychological violence” of brainwashing and propaganda.
“You might imagine muscle men tattooed with steel teeth continuing to fight with knives to get the best crib by the window,” Navalny was quoted as saying. “You have to imagine something like a Chinese labor camp, where everyone walks in line and where video cameras are hung everywhere. There is constant control and a culture of slander.”
He said guards watched them watch hours of government propaganda, not allowing them to read or write, and waking inmates if they fell asleep.
But Navalny remained optimistic about the future of the regime Russian President Vladimir PutinThey insist it will one day be over.
“Sooner or later, this mistake will be fixed, and Russia will move to a democratic European path of development – simply because that is what the people want,” he said in the interview published on Wednesday.
He also reiterated his criticism of the US and European governments imposing sanctions on Russia, which he said harm the Russian people rather than those in power.
He said he was not assaulted by any of his fellow prisoners, and even described that he “enjoyed” preparing snacks with them.
Navalny has not been silent since his imprisonment in March, issuing a letter from prison and also managing several social media posts.
Western intelligence agencies assessed with “high confidence” that FSB agents poisoned Navalny with the nerve agent Novichok last year.
The defector was taken to Germany for treatment but defiantly returned to Russia in January, only to be arrested and sent to a penal colony.
The Kremlin denies that Navalny was poisoned and has stressed that his prison sentence is not political.
This month, he was charged with new crimes that could extend his prison term by three years. If convicted, he can only be released after 2024, the year Russia is due to hold a presidential election.
His movement has faced unprecedented pressure ahead of Russia’s September parliamentary elections, in which Putin’s United Russia party is expected to struggle.