Yury Krylov

Contributing Author, FRF

Nov 08, 2021
Torture of Alexei Navalny. Former inmates disclose details of abuse of the Russian opposition leader

Last week, an independent Russian TV channel Dozhd aired a documentary “Torture of Navalny: How His Surrounding Works to Compromise and Break Him Down”. The program featured interviews of former inmates from the Pokrov’s Correctional Facility Number 2 (where Alexei Navalny is now serving his sentence) describing the torture and abuse targeting him.

Dozhd reporters spoke with former inmates Nariman Osmanov and Yevgeny Burak, who previously served time in the same wing as Navalny. According to Osmanov, this unit of inmates had been deliberately put together before the arrival of the opposition leader to the prison, and each prisoner was pre-briefed privately. Osmanov said that all prisoners in the unit had been instructed not to communicate with the politician and document each of his steps on a daily basis.

“Naturally, we suffered with him. Mentally, I still haven’t recovered, to be honest,” Osmanov told reporters. According to him, Navalny tried to talk to him, but he stopped these attempts.

During the hunger strike, which Navalny kept from March 31 to April 23, some inmates brought a bag of sausages to the barrack and started roasting the sausages on the premises, which is not possible under normal circumstances.

On another occasion, an inmate, housed in the same small cell next to Navalny, was taken to the sanitary unit and then declared to have an infectious form of tuberculosis. Osmanov said he warned Navalny that the incident had been staged.

According to Osmanov, a film was also shown in the colony, which was intended to compromise Navalny in front of other prisoners. The film about the opposition leader’s alleged “non-traditional sexual orientation,” corroborated another prisoner, Yevgeny Burak, was shown on Navalny’s birthday—June 4.

After Navalny returned from the hospital to the prison, his sleep was deliberately disturbed for several days — a prisoner on the bed next to him “made different sounds,” and all this was done at the direction from the colony’s leadership, Osmanov claims.

TV Dozhd reached out to the regional office of the Federal Penitentiary Service for comment, but did not hear back from them by the time this report went to press.


Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny has been in prison since January 2021. He was detained at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow after returning from Germany, where he had been treated after being poisoned with the Novichok chemical warfare agent. According to the sentence, the politician will have to stay in the penal colony until mid-2024.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously stated that Navalny was convicted not for political activities, but for “criminal violations”

Navalny’s organizations were declared “extremist” organizations in June 2021.

Thousands of Russians were detained during nationwide protests calling for his release in early 2021.