Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny says prison time akin to Chinese labour camps
- Alexei Navalny described the experience of a modern political prisoner in Russia as mostly “psychological hours”, where one spends mind-numbing hours in front of a pre-programmed television.
In his first interview from jail, Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has compared Russian prisons to Chinese labour camps, stating inmates have to mandatorily watch state television programmes and propaganda films for more than eight hours everyday.
“Reading, writing or doing anything else.You have to sit in a chair and watch TV,” Navalny, a key detractor of Russian President Valdimir Putin, told the New York Times in an interview that was published on August 25. He said if an inmate fell asleep in front of the television, prison guards promptly woke them up.
"You need to imagine something like a Chinese labour camp, where everybody marches in a line and where video cameras are hung everywhere. There is constant control and a culture of snitching," Navalny was quoted as saying in the interview.
The key Opposition leader described the experience of a modern political prisoner in Russia as mostly “psychological hours”, where one spends mind-numbing hours in front of a pre-programmed television, which starts from the morning after calisthenics, breakfast and sweeping the yard and continues past dinner.
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“We watch films about the Great Patriotic War (World War II), or how one day, 40 years ago, our athletes defeated the Americans or Canadians,” Navalny told the Times in a written exchange of questions and answers.
He said, however, these eight hours of mandatory television every day had provided him with incredible clarity on Putin’s regime. He insisted that Putin was using the past to substitute both the present and the future, adding, “All sorts of past must constantly be in the spotlight to displace thoughts about the future and questions about the present”.
Despite spending his days in Penal Colony number 2 since March, Navalny remained optimistic about the future, calling his regime a “historical accident” and insisted that one day this would come to an end and Russia “will move on to a democratic, European path of development. Simply because that is what the people want”.