Prison holding Kremlin critic Navalny boosts surveillance

Tom Balmforth and Anton Zverev
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: A view shows the Detention centre number 3 (SIZO-3) in Kolchugino

By Tom Balmforth and Anton Zverev

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian prison camp holding Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has placed an order for 32 new CCTV cameras and other surveillance equipment, a state procurement website showed on Tuesday.

Navalny, one of President Vladimir Putin's most prominent critics, is serving a two-and-half-year sentence at the IK-2 corrective penal colony 100 km (60 miles) east of Moscow after he was jailed for parole violations he called trumped up.

Conditions at the facility have been thrust into the spotlight as Navalny has accused its guards of waking him every hour during the night as a flight risk, and of denying him proper treatment for acute back and leg pain.

In an earlier blog post, Navalny said there were video cameras "everywhere" and that IK-2 looked as though it had been inspired by George Orwell's dystopian 1984 novel. His lawyers who visit him almost daily to check on his wellbeing have helped him to publish messages from jail.

According to an entry published on the state procurement website on Monday, the facility has placed an order to buy 32 new CCTV cameras, network cards, hard disks, cabling and other equipment worth a total of 500,000 roubles ($6,580).

The contract to supply the equipment is due to be awarded to a vendor on April 9. State agencies are required to publish such information under legislation aimed at curbing graft.

The prison did not immediately reply to a written request from Reuters to comment on the order.

Navalny was jailed last month on charges he called politically motivated. He was arrested as he returned to Russia from Germany in January, where he had been recovering from what doctors said was a nerve agent poisoning.

His lawyers said last week that his health was deteriorating in custody and that he was experiencing numbness and pain in his leg. His allies have voiced fears of potentially irreversible damage if he does not receive treatment.

Prison authorities, after examining Navalny last week, declared his condition to be stable and satisfactory.

More than 500 medical professionals have signed an open letter demanding the 44-year-old opposition politician get proper care, the letter's author, Andrey Bilzho, was quoted as saying by Moscow-based TV Rain late on Monday.

($1 = 75.9770 roubles)

(Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Anton Zverev; editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)