Imprisoned Russian opposition politician and Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny founded a trade union in a penal colony. The DPA agency reported on this with reference to Navalny’s announcements on Twitter on Thursday.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in an archive photo
“Hello, this is Navalny, the leader and founder of the Promzon trade union, bringing together citizens employed in the prison system,” Navalny, or rather his team, said on Twitter. He is serving a nine-year sentence in the colony for fraud and contempt of court.
In other posts, he explained that the exploitation of some 600,000 people in Russian prisons led him to form the union.
He is also happy to represent the interests of the supervisors, if necessary. “Why not? I am a worker in a colony. A stitch. And the other convicts are also workers. And the wardens are also employees of the colony. When it comes to labor rights, we are no different. We can create a movement to protect our rights,” he said. According to him, the management of the colony first considered the official request for the establishment of a trade union as a joke, and later called it “illegal”.
Navalny wrote that forming a union was something “for which you could normally be easily killed in prison”. In the past, he was the one who encouraged others to form unions. Therefore, he felt the latest step as his duty, “even though it is in the most dangerous place where strikes, disobedience or gatherings are explicitly prohibited.” According to Navalny, there is a risk of torture for a strike in prison. His fellow prisoners were even more worried about the establishment of unions than the prison authorities.
“Every time I talk about it, my fellow prisoners – the murderers – say sadly: Alexey, stop it, please. Because of you, they will never let us out of here and it will all end badly,” he wrote on Twitter. His trade union is thus a “one-man organization”, which fellow inmates and guards do not forget to remind him. However, his activity has already led to a concrete improvement. The tables, on which prisoners working as seamstresses used to sit, were replaced by chairs with backrests.
Navalny was transferred in mid-June from the prison in the city of Pokrov to the penal colony in the city of Melekhov in the Vladimir region, which his allies describe as “one of the scariest Russian prisons.”
Navalny, one of the fiercest critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is considered a political prisoner by the West. In 2020, he barely survived an attempt to poison a novice and blamed the Russian authorities for it. As is usual in similar cases, the Kremlin denied any responsibility.
Source: Pravda – Správy by spravy.pravda.sk.
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