Russian prison service designates opposition leader Alexey Navalny a terrorist
Russia's prison officials have labeled jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny an extremist and a terrorist, according to a Monday post on his Instagram account.
Navalny, who has now spent nearly nine months behind bars in Russia, has been previously regarded as a flight risk and was subject to constant checks, including nighttime raids by guards. He said on Instagram that he recently had been summoned before a committee that voted unanimously to change his status.
"Now there is just a sign over my bunk bed saying that I am a terrorist," Navalny said in the post, published with the help of his lawyers.
He made fun of the announcement, saying that he welcomed the decision as his new status means he will no longer be subjected to stringent checks.
"I counted that I've said the phrase 'Alexey Anatolyevich Navalny, born in 1976, illegally held on the territory of IK-2' to a video recorder 1669 times as they check every two hours that you haven't escaped," the post said. "And I'm terribly tired of it."
"And with the extremism label, it's a bliss. Nobody checks me. I was afraid that they would demand that I kiss Putin's portraits and memorize Medvedev's quotes, but this is not necessary either."
The Federal Penitentiary Service, which is in charge of Navalny's status, did not immediately confirm the change.
Navalny, the most prominent opposition leader in the country, is currently serving a two and a half year sentence on embezzlement charges that he and his allies have slammed as fabricated by the authorities in order to foil his political ambitions.
He returned to Russia from Germany in January after a long recovery from a poisoning attack he blamed on President Vladimir Putin. He was immediately arrested upon landing and was sentenced in February.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any involvement in the near-fatal poisoning.
The authorities in Russia have struck a blow against Navalny's movement over the summer by slapping an extremism label on his regional offices and Anti-Corruption Foundation. Some of Navalny's closest allies have fled the country, while others were jailed or put under house arrest.
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