Kremlin critic and opposition leader, Alexey Navalny has compared Russian prisons to Chinese labor camps.
In his first interview from prison, the Russian lawyer said that he is forced to watch eight hours of state television and propaganda films a day.
The 45-year-old opposition figure told The New York Times that the days of heavy labour in Soviet gulags were over – replaced by what he called the “psychological violence” of brainwashing and propaganda.
“You might imagine tattooed muscle men with steel teeth carrying on with knife fights to take the best cot by the window,” he said.
“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.”
He also added that guards would monitor them as they watched state propaganda, and they were not allowed to read or write. Guards would also wake inmates up if they fell asleep.
But Navalny’s resolve has not been shaken. He insisted that the rule of Vladimir Putin would end one day.
“Sooner or later, this mistake will be fixed, and Russia will move on to a democratic, European path of development. Simply because that is what the people want,” he said.
He also repeated criticisms of the United States and European governments for sanctions on Russia, which he said harmed the Russian people rather than those in power.
Navalny has not been silent since his jailing in March. He has released a letter from prison and also several social media posts.
A total of 54 handwritten pages with Nawalny’s answers are said to have reached the journalists. His press spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, confirmed on Twitter that this was the first interview since his detention.
Navalny was jailed for violating parole requirements in Russia when he went to Germany to seek treatment after being poisoned.
The sentence was widely criticized internationally as politically motivated.
The Kremlin has denied poisoning Navalny and has maintained his prison sentence is not political.
However, Western intelligence agencies have assessed with “high confidence” that FSB officers poisoned Navalny with the nerve agent Novichok last year.