Alexei Navalny participates in the hearing on the appeal against his sentence via video link from the colony in Pokrov, Moscow, May 24, 2022 The Helsinki Commission is concerned about the fate of Alexei Navalny
The well-known Russian opposition leader was transferred to a strict regime colony No. 6 in Melehovo, known as «torture» colony
The temporary disappearance and subsequent transfer of imprisoned Alexei Navalny, the leader of the Russian opposition, to the strict regime colony IK-6 in Melehovo caused serious concern among members of the Helsinki Commission of the US Congress.
Chairman of the Helsinki Commission, Senator Ben Cardin, his deputy, Congressman Steve Cohen, as well as Senator Roger Vicker and Congressman Joe Wilson, released a joint statement on Friday in connection with the latest developments in Navalny's fate.
“Alexey Navalny should not have been put in jail at all. His disappearance – without the knowledge of his lawyers or his family – was a chilling reminder of the dangers political prisoners face in Putin's Russia,” the statement said.
The legislators recalled that colony IK-6 in the Vladimir region is a notorious penitentiary institution where torture and ill-treatment of prisoners is widespread. The authors of the letter said that Navalny's transfer to this colony would further increase the threat to the oppositionist's personal safety, and called for the release of all prisoners of conscience in Russia, including another opposition politician and well-known journalist, Vladimir Kara-Murza.
According to ” Meduza”, On June 14, Navalny was transferred from a general regime colony in Pokrov to a strict regime penal colony No. 6 in the village of Melehovo, Vladimir Region. On the evening of June 15, a post was published in Alexei Navalny's telegram, in which the oppositionist confirmed that he had been transferred to IK-6.
According to Meduza, the lawyers have already met with Navalny in Melehovo, while Alexei is currently in quarantine.
IK-6 is notorious as a “torture” colony. For the first time, the Vladimir Channel Six spoke about the abuse of convicts in Melehovo in 2014. According to eyewitnesses, the leadership of the colony involves those prisoners who cooperate with the administration in the use of torture. With the help of beatings, humiliation and sexual violence, they “knock out” from other convicts the testimony the authorities need, often against themselves or against other people.
Several cases are known when prisoners died as a result of torture and abuse: , “Mediazona” in 2018 spoke about Gor Hovakimyan, who died as a result of beatings. In March 2019, Ayub Tuntuev, a former bodyguard of Akhmat Kadyrov, who was convicted in cases of a terrorist attack in Chechnya in 2005 and an attack on Pskov paratroopers in 2000, died in IK-6.
Representatives of the Federal Penitentiary Service told Tuntuev’s lawyers, that he committed suicide, but relatives of the deceased told Mediazona that they saw signs of beatings on his body.
Russian authorities in March sentenced Navalny to nine years in prison, in addition to his original sentence of two and a half years . He has been imprisoned since January 2021.
Vladimir Kara-Murza, who was arrested in April, is in prison awaiting trial for disseminating “false” information about the Russian military, that is, one that differs from the government’s line RF.