“Like an animal”: replica of Navalny’s cell installed in Paris

A small concrete box marked with the word SHIZO (punishment cell in Russian) in giant red letters sits incongruously next to a 13th-century church just behind the Louvre museum in Paris.

The gray box is a model of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s prison cell that his team unveiled in the French capital on Tuesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s number one enemy is so closely watched that his team said they still don’t know if the 46-year-old was aware that a film about him had won an Oscar.

Martine Fuguet, one of the visitors, said Navalny was kept “in a cage like an animal”.

Vsevolod Tlelov, an opposition activist who fled Russia last year, said the installation represented “a different universe.”

“It’s the life we ​​don’t deserve.”

Navalny is serving a nine-year prison sentence for embezzlement and other charges his supporters see as punishment for defying the Kremlin.

His team set up the replica of his cell – “a prison within a prison” – in Paris to raise awareness of the dire conditions in which he is being held.

The facility mirrors a disciplinary cell where Navalny has spent more than a hundred days over the past six months.

Inside the dimly lit box is a small sink, a floor-standing toilet, and a single bed, which is folded up during the day.

Supporters scrawled messages of support on the outer side of the box, including “Navalny out, Putin in!”

“I think he knows”

Navalny spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said it was unclear whether The main Russian opposition figure knew that a film examining his poisoning won the Oscar for best documentary feature on Sunday.

“I think he knows,” Yarmysh told AFP on the sidelines of the ceremony.

One of her lawyers was able to break the news to her during a recent court hearing, she added. “We know he heard something,” she said.

Navalny told the attorney “he was grateful,” Yarmysh added.

She said it was difficult to maintain contact with Navalny, adding that he was being denied medical attention.

Navalny was poisoned with Novichok, a Soviet-made nerve agent, in 2020. He barely survived and blamed Putin for being behind the attack.

Ivan Zhdanov, head of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, said it was important to raise awareness of the “monstrous” conditions in which Navalny was being held.

“If Alexei becomes free, Putin will not be in power,” he added.

The installation arrived from Germany and will stay in Paris for two weeks. It is open to the public day and night.

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