Navalny accuses the colony leadership of being tortured with insomnia. Is this really real torture? How dangerous is it? (Yes, it’s torture and it’s dangerous)

Alexei Navalny said that in IK-2 in Pokrov, where he is serving a prison term, he is not allowed to sleep normally, due to the fact that he was recognized as “inclined to escape.” The politician’s lawyers say that his physical condition has already seriously worsened: in addition to sleep deprivation, he, according to his own words, is deprived of normal medical care – while in custody he developed back pains, and one leg is almost not functioning. Meduza found out if what is happening can be called torture and how dangerous it is for Navalny’s health.

Alexei Navalny wrote a statement addressed to the director of the Federal Penitentiary Service Alexander Kalashnikov with a copy to Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov that he was being deprived of sleep in the colony: an employee approached him eight times a night, turned on the Dozor system and announced to the camera that he was “filming a professional record of convicted Navalny “, Thereby waking him up. “That is, in fact, I am tortured by insomnia,” the politician said.

The fact that Navalny is not allowed to sleep and is woken up every hour was also posted on  her Instagram by his wife Yulia, addressing President Vladimir Putin with a demand to immediately release her husband. Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov has already answered that “we will not respond to this appeal,” referring the question to the Penitentiary Service.

Navalny’s lawyer Olga Mikhailova told Meduza that they kept him awake for two weeks: they check him every two hours during the day, and eight times at night.

“Every hour they come in, turn on the video recorder, wake up loudly, shine a flashlight in the face, and say that this is a check on Alexei Navalny, who is inclined to escape,” she said. – It’s just an unprecedented story, torture. We sent complaints to the Federal Penitentiary Service and the General Prosecutor’s Office. We sent a request to IK-2, in which we ask you to explain why Navalny is deprived of uninterrupted sleep, on what basis during sleep, from 10 pm to 6 am, Navalny is woken up every hour by an employee of the institution, allegedly to check whether is he an escape? Are these checks your own initiative? How do such checks relate to the fact that Navalny is constantly sleeping under a switched on video camera? “

On what basis is Navalny constantly checked in the colony? 

As Navalny himself writes, he is constantly checked due to the fact that on March 18, while still in the Moscow SIZO-1, he – as “prone to escape” – was put on a preventive record for a period of three months. The reason for this is still unknown to the convict’s lawyers, says Olga Mikhailova.

It is likely that the formal reason was that on December 29 he was put on the federal wanted list one day before the end of the probationary period in  the Yves Rocher case . The convict, who is on the federal wanted list, is immediately put on the preventive record as “inclined to escape,” Sergei Baldin, head of the colony IK-6 in the Orenburg region , said in  an interview with RIA Novosti . Confirmation of this can be found in the decisions of the courts in other cases (here is one example). The judges confirm the legality of the registration, although the FSIN officers refer to paragraph 24 of the order of the Ministry of Justice… It states that “the propensity to escape” is the basis for this decision, but it does not say that the wanted list has anything to do with this propensity.

In the  explanation of the prosecutor’s office for supervision over the observance of laws in correctional institutions (that is, in prisons and colonies) it is said that when convicts enter there from a pre-trial detention center, preventive records are kept. “At a meeting of the commission of the institution of the penal system, specific preventive measures are developed in relation to them, and employees are assigned to them to carry out preventive work for six months.”

The commission can remove the prisoner from the professional account “not earlier than after three months of stay in the institution,” the prosecutor’s office emphasizes. But on the very first day after Navalny’s arrival at IK-2, the period of preventive registration was extended to six months “without any legal basis,” he writes in a statement to the head of the Federal Penitentiary Service.

A person who is on preventive maintenance can be woken up every hour?

Navalny’s lawyers are not aware of the legal grounds that allow FSIN officers from 22:00 to 6:00 hourly to check the presence of a prisoner in a correctional institution in exactly this way – that is, to wake him up. With a request in this regard, they turned to the management of IK-2.

Navalny himself, in a statement to the director of the Federal Penitentiary Service, refers to the order of the Ministry of Justice No. 295 of December 16, 2016 on the rules of the internal regulations of correctional institutions, which says: “It provides for a continuous eight-hour sleep of convicts and the provision of personal time.

Meduza found instructions on the supervision of convicts in correctional colonies, which explicitly states that it is necessary to check the presence of convicts inclined to escape at night “without disturbing their continuous eight-hour sleep . ” This instruction became invalid in 2000, but the norm on sleep was transferred to the current instruction “On the supervision of convicts held in correctional institutions.” The Ministry of Justice approved it by order with the stamp “for official use”, so it was not published officially.

However, recently unknown people sent the full text of the instruction to the “” project. It says to check for escaping persons every two hours. Moreover, after lights out and before getting up, this should be done in the same way as before – ” without disturbing their continuous eight-hour sleep .” At the same time, Navalny, according to him, is not checked every two hours at night, as stated in this instruction, but more often every hour.

The courts insist in their decisions that putting a convicted person on preventive records is not a penalty. Proficiency should not additionally restrict the rights of the convicted person.

Is it a common practice in prison not to let inmates sleep?

Igor Kalyapin, head of the human rights organization Committee Against Torture, told Meduza that he has not encountered situations like those described by Navalny and his lawyers:

“There were complaints that a person was not allowed to sleep during interrogation – for a day or two. I traveled a lot to the colonies, and talked with those who are inclined to escape. They were simply checked more often by operatives, they have a stricter regime, they are not assigned to work related to independent movement around the colony, they are not allowed to go on long visits, they have no chance of being released on parole [parole]. Not once in 25 years has anyone been woken up once an hour with the Dozor system and a flashlight. Moreover, I know for sure that there are no such prescribed protocols – even in those chipboards that I have seen. I, frankly, am shocked by what I heard, all this needs to be checked. You have to go to the colony – this is really torture, damage to mental health. I only know theoretically about sleep deprivation torture – Guantanamo, NKVD, Gestapo. Again, this was not the case in my practice. “

However, a former FSIN officer who served in a Mordovian colony told Meduza that bypassing and waking up prisoners in the 1990s was a common practice. “I can’t name the internal orders, but back in the 1990s, junior inspectors appointed as a duty assistant to the head of the colony to bypass the living area walked around the detachments with flashlights and looked at the“ professional accountants ”every two hours. Depending on the mood of the shift, some would wake up such prisoners to introduce themselves. After all, a person can sleep with his face to the wall, covering his face with a blanket. “

Is what is happening with Navalny really torture?

It is difficult to assess what is happening from a legal point of view, because in international law quite little ( pdf. ) Talks about sleep deprivation as a form of torture. At the same time, in specific cases, courts sometimes recognize sleep deprivation or regular interruption as abuse.

The judges of the European Court of Human Rights believe that if a prisoner was given at least six hours of sleep (even if more is required by law), such conditions cannot be considered torture. But in the case “Gulyuyev v. Russian Federation” (2008), they found the deprivation of uninterrupted sleep and other inhuman conditions during the transfer as a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms “Prohibition of torture”. Gulyuev was woken up every two hours, referring to the regular checks prescribed by the instructions. 

Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director of Amnesty International for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, believes that torture should be discussed in the case of Navalny as well.

“Sleep deprivation can amount to torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. According to information from Alexei Navalny, transmitted through lawyers, since March 11, he is systematically deprived of sleep – every night the guards wake him up eight times. In this connection, there is hardly any doubt that we are talking about torture or other ill-treatment.

The reports of Navalny’s deteriorating health are also extremely worrying, along with his claims of being denied medical care for several days. “

It is characteristic that in the “CIA Interrogation Manual” ( pdf. ) – a document that was used by the American special services during the Vietnam War and is considered a kind of “torture guide” – it is recommended to interrupt the sleep of prisoners, and not to deprive it at all, since it weakens their will to resist. True, in this case it was a question of obtaining military information during interrogations.

How dangerous is sleep deprivation?

It is difficult to assess the risks of sleep deprivation for prisoners, as scientific research tends to be conducted in less extreme conditions, not involving incarceration. Experts have no doubt , however, that all those factors that already have a detrimental effect on health in prison (lack of quality medical care, unsanitary conditions, restriction of freedom of movement) are sharply increased in the case of sleep deprivation.

Averaged data say about that sleep less than six hours is associated with long-term health problems. However, each person has a different sleep rate, and sleeping less than what is needed can lead to health problems.

Sleep quality is also important. And it suffers if a person constantly wakes up at night. In the short term, a lack of quality sleep can lead to cognitive impairment. Simply put, thinking, attention, reaction speed and the ability to cope with difficult tasks suffer. The mood also changes: a person may become more irritable, depressed, anxious. The person feels pain more sharply .

If a person does not sleep enough for a long time, then he has a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, a higher vulnerability to infectious diseases and, in general, a higher risk of premature death.

(c)MEDUZA 2021

One comment

  1. Yes, sleep deprivation is torture without a doubt. It is very damaging to long term health, which is what the putinazis want. He could eventually come out emasculated, weakened and possibly losing drive and motivation.

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