What is the Kremlin doing to Navalny in prison?

Alexei Navalny's health has apparently deteriorated rapidly since he began his prison term in Russia. He complains of acute back pain and numbness in his right leg but has received hardly any medical care. Because he has been classified as "at risk of escaping", he is woken up by prison guards once every hour at night. Observers accuse the Russian state of torture and seek to clarify the motives.

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Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

Putin intentionally putting Navalny's life at risk

Putin is responsible for everything that happens to Navalny, Helsingin Sanomat insists:

“Of course everyone knows that Navalny can't escape and doesn't want to, after all he returned from Germany voluntarily. The Russian authorities want to show that they can do just as they please - and what pleases them now is to mistreat and torture a critic of President Vladimir Putin. ... This barbaric treatment of the opposition leader is new evidence of the direction Russia has taken. If Alexei Navalny suffers damage to his health or dies, Putin will bear sole responsibility.”

MBK media (RU) /

Hero degraded to sniveller

MBK Media looks for motives beyond simple revenge for Navalny's inhumane treatment:

“There are objective motives for the torture: this is about correcting Navalny's image, about turning him from a victorious hero into a long-suffering sniveller. ... The very fact that only two months after his arrest Navalny's supporters are having to discuss his health and his complaints - his leg and his back - instead of the plans to 'storm the Kremlin' and build the Russia of the future is already a success according to the Kremlin's balance sheet.”

Ekho Moskvy (RU) /

Torture as a deterrent

The Kremlin wants to make an example of Navalny, explains Lew Schlosberg of the opposition party Yabloko in his blog on Echo of Moscow:

“Prolonged and chronic lack of sleep kills. Those who make use of torture know that only too well. And medical care in prison comes down to nothing more than monitoring the condition of dying people ... Navalny's torture is aimed not only at him, but at everyone who disagrees with the power of the state: You see what we can do with Navalny? Imagine what we could do to you. In the eyes of today's political prison guards, this is proof of their strength. But in reality it's just evidence of their criminality and wickedness - and a broad body of evidence for future criminal trials.”