Putin critic Navalny moved to ‘torture prison’ notorious for sexual violence

Russian opposition leader and Vladimir Putin critic, Alexei Navalny has been transferred to a dreaded “torture” prison notorious for sexual violence, it is believed.

Navalny has disappeared from Pokrov penal colony where he was serving 11 years for alleged fraud and contempt of court cases but is no longer there.

He is now thought to be locked up at Melekhovo, a strict regime maximum security penal colony known for regular brutal beatings and the rape of male inmates.

Leonid Volkov, Navalny's chief of staff, said on Telegram that Navalny’s lawyer had tried to visit him at Pokrov but was told "There is no such convict."

"Where Alexei is now, and which colony he is being taken to, we don't know," he said.

It has since emerged that Navalny has been transferred into Russia ’s most feared jail.

The move to the “hell” jail is linked to the start of a new nine year sentence seen as politically-motivated by the Russian opposition and the West.

Navalny has said that he wants to replace Putin, and believes he would win an election if the system were not rigged in the Kremlin leader’s favour.

Independent media outlet Mediazona last year revealed allegations of systematic torture and sexual violence at the facility known as Correctional Colony No. 6.

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It is in the same Vladimir region as his previous Pokrovskaya general regime colony, a two hour drive away.

The fact both jails are in a region with the same name as Putin is seen as reflecting the Kremlin leader’s "sense of humour'.

Former convict Ivan Fomin, then 29, claimed that the governor of the colony, Roman Sahakyan, had forced him to refuse a lawyer with threats.

He was told that if he did not cooperate “they would rape me, and tie my legs and hands from behind"

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“I would lie down," he said, "and they would beat my heels and ass.

“After that, if I did not confess, they would [rape] me with a [spade] handle, and then put this in my mouth.”

He witnessed another inmate being punched in the stomach and beaten with piping on his heels and bottom.

The prisoner was then “raped” with the piping, which was later forced into his mouth, he said.

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Navalny’s press secretary Kira Yarmysh has said that while torture is used on prisoners in many Russian colonies, this jail is “a monstrous place even by such insane standards.”

There had been numerous testimonies about the facility, she said.

In March, Navalny – who nearly lost his life when he was poisoned with novichok – was sentenced to nine years of strict regime prison for 'fraud and insulting the court’.

The judge had been promoted by Vladimir Putin ahead of the sentence.

He is due to be moved to a stricter jail when the new sentence comes into force.

Navalny is seen as the most charismatic of Putin's critics, and the Russian leader refuses even to mention his name.

A lawyer, the opposition politician has relentlessly exposed alleged corruption in Putin’s circle.

Navalny says the case against him was fabricated.

He spoke out against the war in Ukraine, and vowed to “continue to fight the authorities”, declaring he was afraid of “neither the FSB, nor chemical weapons, nor Putin.”

If you or somebody you know has been affected by this story, contact Victim Support for free, confidential advice on 08 08 16 89 111 or visit their website, www.victimsupport.org.uk.

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