Biden says 39Putin is responsible for Navalny39s death39 Live updates

Biden says 'Putin is responsible for Navalny's death': Live updates

On Wednesday, two days before Russian authorities reported his death, Aleksei A. Navalny was sentenced to another term in a special punishment cell in an Arctic prison, a notoriously harsh form of incarceration generally used to force inmates into submission.

The sentencing was the 27th time prison authorities sent Mr. Navalny to a punishment cell, according to Kira Yarmysh, his spokeswoman. If he had served this last term in full, he would have spent a total of 308 days in similar cells, Ms. Yarmysh said.

According to Eva Merkacheva, a Russian journalist who reports extensively on the country's prisons, inmates in such cells are often cold and hungry, and these conditions may be the reason for the reports of Mr. Navalny's death.

“I think his endless transfers to a punishment cell could definitely lead to this,” Ms. Merkacheva told MSK1, a news site.

Although he was imprisoned, Mr. Navalny continued to post messages on social media, distributing notes to his visiting lawyers, and he described the brutal conditions in the punishment cells.

Prison authorities used trivial violations as reasons to punish Mr. Navalny, he wrote in an Instagram post. He was punished, he said, for wearing an unbuttoned robe, for not walking with his hands behind his back during transfers between cells, and for… Fail imagine yourself correctly.

In addition to spending their time in a freezing, cramped cell, inmates in punishment cells are also limited in their ability to exercise and spend their time in a tiny walled courtyard with a roof made of prison bars. In his new penal colony in the Arctic, for example, Mr. Navalny was only allowed to go out in the morning, when it was still dark and temperatures were at their lowest.

“It has never been colder than -25°F,” Mr. Navalny said wrote on social media in January, in which he described his walks. “Even in this temperature, you can walk for more than half an hour, but only if you have time to grow a new nose, ears and fingers.”

In his posts, Mr. Navalny described his imprisonment in punishment cells as a form of torture, but also joked lightheartedly that it was an opportunity for him to meditate.

But the harsh prison conditions have damaged Mr Navalny's health. He was first sent to a penal colony in March 2021, just months after he was poisoned by a nerve agent that almost killed him. After the poisoning, Mr. Navalny lost significant weight and had to relearn basic movements, such as using his fingers to use his phone.

During his first weeks in the penal colony, Mr. Navalny's health rapidly deteriorated. Leonid Volkov, his chief of staff, said Mr. Navalny suffered from acute back and leg pain weeks after he was transferred to his first penal colony.

While in custody, Mr. Navalny said he was not receiving adequate medical treatment and went on a hunger strike in protest. When he stopped more than three weeks later, he was left like “a swaying skeleton in his cell.”

In June 2022, Mr. Navalny was moved to a tougher prison, where problems with his spine worsened as he had to spend most of his time with movement restricted by the tight confines of the punishment cell. Doctors who visited him did not disclose his diagnosis, he said, adding that he was also given undisclosed injections.

In January 2023, Mr. Navalny's wife, Yulia, said in a post on Instagram that her husband was sick with a high fever and that instead of helping him, prison officials had moved another sick person to his cell. Authorities refused to transfer him to a medical facility at the time, Mr. Navalny said, and a group of Russian doctors wrote letters urging authorities to treat him.

His condition temporarily improved, but weeks later an ambulance had to be called because of an acute stomach illness, according to Mr. Navalny's lawyer said. Last December, Mr. Navalny lost consciousness in his cell, his spokeswoman said.

“We don’t know what it was,” she said said on social media. “But considering he is deprived of food and kept in a punishment cell with no ventilation and minimal walks, it looks like he is collapsing from starvation.”

In December, Mr. Navalny spent nearly three weeks traveling through the Russian prison system to be transferred to his new penal colony in the Arctic. When he arrived he was said that the trip was “quite tiring”.