March 31, 2023

The Hygiene Hindrance


The Hygiene Hindrance
A "Free Navalny" Demonstration in Düsseldorf, Germany.  Kürschner, Wikimedia Commons

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny was put into SHIZO, a severe-punishment cell, with a prisoner who has "big problems with hygiene."

Navalny recalls in a tweet, "Under some stupid pretext [I] was taken out of my cell for ten minutes, I return – and who do you think is waiting for me there, looking at me with hungry eyes full of horror? That's right, my old tractor friend."

Navalny highlights his roommate's two-month restriction from "elementary hygiene items" like toothpaste and toilet paper. The prison then "marinated" him in the medical unit, and transferred him to live with Navalny, who wrote, "They use a person like a cotton swab with bacteria."

In Russian prisons, SHIZO (shtrafnoy izolyator) is a highly severe form of punishment that imposes strict restrictions on inmates. Prisoners are forbidden from bringing in personal belongings or food, their bunks are fixed to the wall, and they are granted only one hour of time for reading or writing per day. Additionally, they are prohibited from receiving visits, gifts, phone calls, or buying food from the prison store.

Navalny reports that the other prisoner was put into SHIZO with him for smoking in the wrong place: "You see, once again an amazing coincidence happened. For two months he smoked in the same place, and no one paid attention. But, as soon as it was necessary to make the impossible stuffy cell even more stuffy and unbearable, he was given 15 days for this smoking."

On March 24, 2023, Navalny was relocated to the SHIZO for the twelfth time. This particular instance had been prompted by him "wrongly introduc[ing] himself." Navalny took to Twitter, reporting that the authorities weren't too pleased with him winning an Oscar, and "decid[ed] that two books in the cell AND an Oscar was too much." Navalny concluded, "But, of course, that doesn't eliminate the question of why some people get an Oscar while I get put in the SHIZO," with a winking emoji. According to Meduza, Navalny has spent more than a hundred days in the SHIZO since August 2022.

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