Dasha Navalnaya, daughter of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, wrote in a Time magazine column about her father's prison conditions and said that the Putin regime must be defeated.
Recently it became known that new charges were brought against Navalny: calls for terrorism and extremism, financing of extremist activities and the rehabilitation of Nazism. According to the Investigative Committee, Navalny committed all these crimes while in a prison cell. The prosecution asked for another 30-year prison term for Navalny
The Insider cites the text of Navalnaya's column in full.
Over the past few years, the name of Alexei Navalny has become known outside of Russia. You read about how he founded the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) to investigate the illicit enrichment of the Russian elite, how he was detained many times for participating in protests against the Putin regime, how he ran for president in 2018, how he was poisoned in 2020 how he miraculously recovered and returned to the fight for the bright future of his country.
To you, it's just headlines around the world. For me, this is reality.
My name is Dasha Navalnaya. I am 21 years old and I study at Stanford University. My father, Alexei Navalny, became Vladimir Putin's number one enemy in the fight against the corrupt and bloodthirsty Kremlin regime.
Since 2011, FBK has been exposing the corruption of high-ranking government officials in Russia, one of the most famous investigations is "Putin's Palace". In August 2020, my father survived the Novichok chemical weapons poisoning by the FSB, and a few months after his recovery, he successfully investigated his own assassination attempt.
Despite the dangers he faced, Alexei Navalny returned to Russia in January 2021 and was illegally arrested at the airport. Since then, he has been serving his term in prison one on one with Putin's jailers. Shortly after his arrest, the Anti-Corruption Foundation was recognized in Russia as an extremist organization, and members of its team were prosecuted and sent into exile.
We all know that a prison is not where you want to be anywhere in the world, but conditions in the Russian prison system are much worse than in the US or Europe. Nothing compares to a Russian prison - it will cripple even those who are in perfect health. My father was a survivor of chemical weapons poisoning with severe consequences; he spent over two weeks in a coma and over a month in intensive care. The recovery took several months. Shortly after his imprisonment, he began to experience back pain and a gradual loss of control of his legs. He had to endure a 24-day hunger strike just to gain access to medical care.
The barely survived hunger strike did not break his spirit - nothing will ever break his spirit. But the conditions of solitary confinement he is currently undergoing are clearly designed to break him down mentally and kill him physically. For more than two months, my father's “place of residence” has been a 2x2.5 meter punishment cell, which is more like a concrete cage for a 190 cm tall person. He spends his days sitting on a low iron stool (which increases back pain), and the mug is the only thing he is allowed to keep. Even his bed is pinned to the wall from 6am to 10pm.
On Thursday, November 17, my father was transferred to a strict regime in solitary confinement. The rest of the prisoners live in barracks, from which they can freely leave, but he will be permanently locked in solitary confinement. He wrote: "It's just an ordinary cramped cell, like a punishment cell, except that you can have not one but two books with you, and use the prison kiosk, albeit on a very limited budget." These new conditions will also prevent him from qualifying for any family visits - they are completely prohibited. Being able to have a second book is definitely a bonus for a quick reader like my father.
I am proud to be my father's daughter and I walk with my head held high knowing that, despite the inhumane conditions, he opposed Putin's war in Ukraine and urged the Russian people to do everything possible to fight it.
“Everything has its price, and now, in the spring of 2022, we must pay this price. Nobody will do it for us. Let's not 'be against the war'. Let's fight against the war," he said during a trial in March. It is now December, and since August my father has spent 78 days in the punishment cell, serving eight consecutive terms of solitary confinement.
Why was he sent to a punishment cell, and now to solitary confinement for a long time, you ask. Among the violations on the part of the administration of the colony: my father was sent to a punishment cell because he “unbuttoned his overalls” (it is physically impossible to fasten it, since the overalls are several sizes smaller), “refused to scrub the fence”, “badly swept the exercise yard and insulted the lieutenant Criminal Investigation Department, addressing him by his rank and surname instead of his first and patronymic. The latter is just a “blatant violation”, worthy of being in a “chamber-type” room.
The real reason for the constant punishment was and still is, of course, Navalny's condemnation of the war in Ukraine and his opposition to the Putin regime. My father uses every appeal hearing as an opportunity to make an anti-war statement. During a recent hearing, he said, “Your Honor, I declare that I am innocent. And I believe that I and others like me have done everything possible to prevent what is happening now. And we will continue to do so. And I call on all citizens of Russia to fight this regime, this war, this mobilization.”
“I will spend as much time in the punishment cell as it takes to defend my right to speak out against the historic crime committed by Putin,” in his case, this is nothing more than a sad self-fulfilling prophecy. The prison administration has made it clear that there is not a glimmer of fairness in the law regarding Navalny.
The latter is also evidenced by the fact that the privilege of attorney-client privilege for my father no longer exists. The administration of the penal colony simply decided to abandon it. In recent months, all his communication with lawyers passes through the administration of the colony. The visiting room window is covered with opaque film, so lawyers can only hear the voice and see the silhouette of their client as they discuss the defense of new criminal cases against him (he now faces up to 30 years behind bars). My father's lawyers no longer have a visual representation of his health and physical condition. This is unique even by the low standards of the Russian judicial system.
For me, Alexei Navalny is not only a determined, hardworking and charismatic leader, but also a cheerful, caring and incredible father. He taught me how to ride a bike, helped me solve math equations and ask grammar questions when I just couldn't figure out what a semicolon was in elementary school. In middle school, when I first tried making porridge and over-salted it, my dad smiled, didn't rebuke me, and ate it whole. He spent hours helping me to learn the poem "Prophet" by A. S. Pushkin - so well that it is still imprinted in my memory. Every September, he walked my little brother and me to school on the first day of classes. My dad attended our competitions, concerts and proms. And he always wrote me or someone close to me a loving and funny letter on our birthday if he was arrested and he could not be with us personally.
Now he can't even do that.
Our family has always prided itself on its optimism: we prefer to joke rather than complain when times are bad. We have seen a lot over the years and tried not to take it too personally. Between 2011 and 2021, my father was detained at least once almost every year, with the time spent in prison only increasing. My mother was detained and tried; my uncle served 3.5 years in prison for the simple crime of having the same last name as his father. Our entire family, including my grandparents, great-grandparents, has been persecuted and illegally criminalized many times. Not to mention the "good old days" when FSB poisoners came close to killing my mother and nearly killed my father.
It is impossible to get used to the idea that your loved ones can be imprisoned or killed at any time for a made-up reason, but over time it has become part of our family routine. "I suppose you're not coming to dinner tonight?" I asked my father every time he was going to protest. In response, he just smiled mischievously.
The Russian regime has always been based on corruption, and now it is based on war - for Putin, these are two necessary conditions in order to stay in power. Therefore, he is ready to destroy anyone who dares to expose them. And he treats my father with personal hatred - as his most implacable opponent for many years.
Now, as you read these lines, Navalny is in mortal danger, but he continues to stand up for what he believes in. He proved that he was ready to sacrifice his freedom, health and even life in order for Russia to become a democratic, prosperous country. And now, even from prison, he is fighting to make it peaceful. By his example, he supports and inspires millions of Russians who, like him, do not want to put up with war and injustice.
Putin must be defeated. It poses a threat not only to Russia and Ukraine, but to the whole world. The very essence of authoritarian power implies a constant increase in the stakes, the growth of aggression and the search for new enemies. In order not to lose this fight, we must unite.
My father is one of the leaders of this struggle and he should be free. He challenges Putin every day, but together we can make sure that his efforts are not in vain and that his words are heard around the world. I now turn to world leaders and ask them to support my call to the Russian government to release my father.
Let's all strive for a better, more prosperous global future in which we can choose our own leaders. Freedom for Alexei Navalny!