Putin critic Alexei Navalny discusses his final weeks in Arctic prison

Alexei Navalny
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When asked for comment on the prospective steps being considered against Russia, the White House did not immediately answer.
Although he was “not surprised” but “outraged” by the assassination of the opposition leader Alexei Navalny, US President Joe Biden blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for the death and warned of potential consequences on Friday.

Russian official media have a history of ignoring dissenting voices and continued this pattern in their coverage of Alexei Navalny’s purported demise.

There has been scant coverage of Navalny’s death on Russia’s official television stations, which reach the largest audiences, and initial reports were vague and sluggish to emerge.

It took about 45 minutes and an hour, respectively, for the announcement to be mentioned on Channel One and Rossiya 1, two of the most popular channels.

Neither Navalny’s identity nor the circumstances surrounding his incarceration were explained in these reports.

Although they assured viewers that “the most thorough investigation” would be conducted into his death, one of them just referred to him as “Navalny” without even asking his complete name.

A liberal politician was interrupted by the host of another prominent state TV channel when he attempted to offer his condolences on the death of Navalny; the host then asked the politician what this had to do with the subject of their discussion.

In a prison cell high above the Arctic Circle, Russia’s most famous opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, spent his last weeks of life.
Many Westerners and human rights organizations saw his 19-year jail term as retribution for defying President Vladimir Putin.

He maintained a consistent social media presence, posting in his trademark upbeat and humorous style through messages relayed by his attorneys.

As described by Navalny himself, the following was the course of his last weeks:

No, no, no

After vanishing for weeks after being transferred from his previous prison near Moscow, Navalny finally made an appearance on December 26 from his new Arctic prison colony, where he posted his initial message.

In the frigid IK-3 prison colony in the Yamal-Nenets area of Siberia, some 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) away from his hometown of Moscow, he would spend his last weeks of life behind bars.

“I am your new grandpa Frost,” Navalny playedfully announced.

“I have a tulup, an ushanka and I will have valenki soon,” he continued, making reference to the characteristic furry winter jackets, caps and boots of Russia.

Over the Arctic Circle now is where I call home… Looking out the window, I don’t shout “ho-ho-ho,” but rather “oh-oh-oh,” as I watch the cycle of night, evening, and nightfall.

According to Navalny, he was exhausted after the 20-day ordeal from his prior incarceration in the central Vladimir region, near Moscow.

Everything is OK with me, so there’s no need to fret. The fact that I have arrived here makes me very delighted.

‘With Leonardo DiCaprio in mind.’

Navalny divulged further information regarding his circumstances in the new Arctic prison a few weeks subsequent, following his quarantine period.

“The idea that Putin was pleased (enough) that he had put me in a barracks in the Far North that they would stop throwing me in solitary confinement was … naive,” said the 47-year-old.

“‘Convict Navalny refused to introduce himself in the correct way,'” the prison officials informed him. Spending a week in isolation.

During his three years behind bars, Navalny spent over 300 days in solitary confinement, which his fellow inmates referred to as a “punishment cell” because of its Russian name.

He had 27 separate orders to go there, most of them were for minor infractions of prison policy.

Navalny, who ventures out for a daily stroll at 6:30 a.m. despite the darkness, asserts, “I promised myself I would go out in any weather.”

He had “11 steps from wall to wall” in his cell.

Less than 32 degrees Celsius is the coldest it has ever been. He said on January 9 that it is possible to walk for over 30 minutes at such temperatures, but only if one has the luxury of time to regrow their nose, ears, and fingers.

“Today I was walking, freezing and thinking about Leonardo DiCaprio and his trick with a dead horse in The Revenant,” he added, recalling a scene where DiCaprio’s character seeks refuge in a horse’s carcass.

“It seems like it wouldn’t be appropriate here. Within fifteen minutes, a lifeless horse would succumb to the cold.

‘I’m Russian’ 

Navalny was also known for his frequent mockery of jail rituals.

He made the announcement on January 22 that the IK-3 prison wardens will play the Russian national song at 5 a.m. to wake up all of the inmates.

“And right after that — the second most important song in the country: Shaman’s ‘Ya Russky,'” remarked the musician.

This song, whose lyrics read “I’m Russian,” has taken on the status of an unofficial Putin anthem.

“Consider this scenario. The region of Yamal-Nenets. Polar evening. ‘Ya Russky’ is being practiced by a 19-year-old prisoner named Navalny, who the Kremlin’s propaganda has criticized for years for participating in Russian marches.

‘Send me money’ 

Just one day before he passed away, on February 15, Navalny was caught on camera making light of the seemingly endless stream of penalties handed to him during a court hearing.

“Your honour, I will send you my personal account number so that you, with your huge salary as a federal judge, can send me money,” he joked.

Your decisions are making my money run out much faster than it already is. So, get it sent!

‘I love you’ 

In his most recent post, which went live on Valentine’s Day, Navalny thanked his wife, Yulia.

“My love, we have everything that the song describes, including cities, airfield lights, blue snowstorms, and miles and miles of distance between us,” he gushed, echoing a popular Soviet-era ballad.

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