MOSCOW (AP) – Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Monday asked a court to suspend hourly night checks he was subjected to at his penal colony.
Addressing the court in a video link from prison, Navalny said he had done nothing that would justify authorities’ decision to designate him as a flight risk which resulted in checks.
“I just want them to stop coming to see me and waking me up at night,” he told the judge in remarks broadcast by independent TV Dozhd. “What did I do: Did I climb the fence?” Have I dug an underground passage? Or was I wringing a gun at someone? Just explain why they called me a leak risk! “
He argued that the hourly night checks “effectively amounted to torture”, telling the judge that “you would go mad in a week” if you were subjected to such regular awakenings.
The court subsequently adjourned the hearing to Wednesday.
Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most determined political foe, was arrested in January on his return from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from nerve poisoning he attributes to the Kremlin – accusations that Russian officials reject.
In February, he was sentenced to two and a half years for violating the terms of a suspended sentence resulting from a 2014 embezzlement conviction, which he said was politically motivated.
He went on a 24-day hunger strike in prison to protest the lack of medical treatment for severe back pain and numbness in his legs, ending it last month after receiving the medical treatment he demanded .
While still on a hunger strike, Navalny was transferred from a penal colony east of Moscow where he was serving his sentence in a hospital in another prison in Vladimir, a town 180 kilometers away. east of the capital. He is still in this prison, where, according to him, the night checks continued, although they were less intrusive.
With Navalny in prison, prosecutors have asked a Moscow court to designate his Anti-Corruption Foundation and network of regional offices as extremist groups. A bill, which quickly passed through Russia’s Kremlin-controlled lower house of parliament, prevents members, donors and supporters of extremist groups from running for public office.
The parallel movements were widely seen as an attempt to prevent one of Navalny’s associates from running in the September parliamentary elections.