Russian dissident Alexei Navalny forcibly removed from prison cell after protest


Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Russian dissident Alexei Navalny was forcibly removed from his prison cell Monday after he refused to leave in protest over jail guards confiscating his writing tools.

"Alexei Navalny usually attends his court hearings via video link, but today he was not there," Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) wrote in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

"We don't know the reason. The hearing has been postponed," FBK said. The court hearing was adjourned until Nov. 2, according to Sota Vision, a Russian news outlet.

Hours later, FBK posted that Navalny had been forced out of his cell.

"Today Alexei Navalny was deprived of all his writing tools. Now he has no ability to write letters. Therefore, he declined to come out from his cell for the trial," FBK said. "After that, several individuals forcibly entered the cell and physically escorted him to the investigator's office."

Navalny, 47, had been scheduled to appear in court via a video link from the prison where he has been held since June 2022, over lawsuits he filed against the Russian government.

Navalny is facing an additional 19 years in prison on charges of fraud, embezzlement, contempt of court and extremism, which he calls politically motivated. The sentence by a Russian court also bans him from speaking to fellow inmates and allows gifts and visits from family only once a year.

Navalny has frequently passed letters, opposing the regime of Vladimir Putin, through his lawyers to be published on social media about his prison experience. Three of his lawyers were detained last week on charges of extremism.

"It is absolutely absurd to accuse them of spreading extremist messages. For a significant time, every single one of their records has been thoroughly documented. Any correspondence between me and them is carefully censored for three consecutive days," Navalny wrote in a post on his website. "Moreover, the room where I contact my lawyers is under constant audio and video surveillance."

In 2020, Navalny survived an assassination attempt with Novichok nerve agent. He was arrested a year later when he returned to Russia and sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.

That sentence was extended to nine years on fraud charges in 2022.

Navalny is scheduled to be moved to a "special regime" colony, the harshest type of prison reserved for Russia's worst criminals, where he will have even less contact with his lawyers and family.