Navalny’s New Life

Dear Readers:

Today I have this piece from KP describing Alexei Navalny’s new life in a Russian labor colony.  The reporter is Alexander Boiko.  Here is my review of this piece.

Navalny now resides in “Correctional Colony #2” in the town of Pokrov, the Petushinsky Region of the Vladimir Oblast.  This Oblast borders Moscow and Yaroslavl Oblasts and whose fauna, according to wiki, “currently includes more than fifty species of mammals (some examples including elk, wild boar, roe deer, red and sika deer, lynx, wolf, squirrel, rabbit, marten, fox, weasel, badger and other fur-bearing animals), five species of reptiles, and ten species of amphibians.” And now, also, one Navalny.

Navalny’s approximate location is marked in red, in case any CIA commandos out there want to try to go in and rescue him!

Our hero is currently under a 2-week quarantine to make sure he doesn’t have Covid.  After he completes his quarantine he will able to attend the Colony concert on 8 March, celebrating the International Women’s Day Holiday.  And then just a week later, on March 13 there is another holiday:  “Day of the Wardens for Corrective Facilities.”  In addition to concerts and other rehabilitation activities, prisoners are allowed to receive gifts and care packages from their loved ones.  Due to the covid pandemic, the colony no longer allows people to mail in physical packages; however, they can order treats from the online store and be assured they will be delivered to their incarcerated love one.

According to Boiko, the particular colony which is now Navalny’s home, actually has a good reputation.  It’s considered a “soft” place to go, almost like a Camp Cupcake.  First-timers are usually sent there.  Most of the inmates are murderers and other violent criminals, but the good news is, the bandits are not in charge of the camp.  The managers and wardens of this colony are all graduates of the Federal Service Of Carrying Out Punishments (ФСИН), and they do everything by the book.  To be sure, there was a scandal back in 2017 when the Deputy Director accepted a 30,000 ruble bribe from a rapist.  But the scandal was uncovered, and the corrupt official arrested.

How will Navalny cope in his new life among the riffraff?  People like myself who have been following this character for years, are aware that, in all probability, he is a purely white-collar criminal, there has never been even a hint of violence in Navalny’s resume.  He is a con-man, a racist, and a traitor, to be sure; but he is not a brute.  Therefore, one is happy that he is placed in a well-run facility, where he will not be exposed to physical brutality or inhuman conditions.  Nobody actually deserves that, in a civilized society, in my humble opinion.  Let’s just say that he is lucky he is not in an American prison, where torture and degradation of the personality are considered a normal part of the punishment.  He can ask Maria Butina about that.

Maria Butina: Served time for the crime of being Russian, was tortured in American prison.

A demographic survey conducted by ФСИН reveals that, in the Vladimir Oblast, the bulk of the colony inmates consist of 50% {murderers, people who committed violent harm to others, and/or misused narcotics}; up to 25% are thieves.  To me, these numbers don’t make sense, why are they conglomerating murders and narcotics offenses?  Don’t even get me started on the war on drugs, that’s one of the prime causes for the destruction of the African-American community in the U.S.  Russia has other problems of its own, of course…

Anyhow, despite the unsavory character of the inmates, the Colony itself prides itself on a wonderful image, as shown in all the photographs.  Everything is clean and neat, there is a little church and even a windmill, as one can see in the attached photograph.  There are images of prisoners learning to paint (and quite well!) and lots of other fun things to do.

The history of this Colony dates back to 1974

Camp Cupcake, Vladimir Oblast, Russia.

At that time it was called the Rehabilitation Prophylactic Facility #2 in the town of Pokrov.  In 1994 the facility was completely rebuilt, but stuck to the original Soviet philosophy that criminals can and must be “rehabilitated” via honest labor.  Recall the famous Soviet movie “Ivan Vasilievich Changes His Profession” [yalensis:  I’ve seen that film, and it’s pretty funny!], the scene where actress Natalia Krachkovskaya removes her wig and utters the winged phrase:  “They will cure you and they will cure me?”  Here is how it works:  The 790 inmates are organized into 10 “squadrons” (отряд); and according to the Soviet philosophy and methodology of rehabilitation, each squadron is treated as a collective, including collective punishment.  If an individual transgresses, the entire collective is punished.  Members of the collective work together and live together.

Of these 10 collectives, two are set aside as “special” squadrons:  One is for the worst of the worst; and another for the most trusted inmates.  In the latter, these trustees live their lives almost like at a Pioneer summer camp:  they don’t even have bars on the windows.

This prisoner is something like a chess grandmaster.

It is not very likely that Navalny will be put in the “Trustee” squadron with the soft conditions.  For the reason that he has been deemed a “flight risk”, and not surprisingly, given his jaunting off to Germany when he was supposed to be on probation for a previous white-collar crime.  Navalny, who sometimes has the mind and bearing of an adolescent, also did a dumb thing while he was sitting in the detainment cell awaiting his transfer to the Colony:  He kept posting on social media and cracked some dumb jokes about making a shiv out of a spoon.  Colony Directors don’t have a sense of humor and don’t appreciate that sort of joke; on the contrary, they will deem Navalny possibly dangerous in that regard, even though he has no history of violence.  With or without shivs.

On the other hand, Navalny will have multiple opportunities to redeem himself, in the eyes of the Colony authorities; and even to actually “cure” himself, as Ivan Vasilievich did; or rehabilitate himself; through the good old-fashioned (Soviet) method of productive and socially-useful labor.  He will have opportunities to be trained in an honest industrial profession as a cutter, a turner, or carpenter.  He could also learn to become a tailor and sew clothing; or he could make wooden desks for schools.  Or he could learn to manufacture details for various devices which are actually used in the Vladimir Electro-Motor factory.

Navalny could enter a song competition.

Several prisoners in the colony have discovered hidden talents as ikon painters, or they carve beautiful toys for children.  Inmates also have the opportunity to engage in charity actions to help blind children, for example, creating “tactile toys” and the like.  According to Colony officials, the labor force is at 100%, in other words, EVERYBODY has a job!  Arbeit macht frei.  Everybody must work.  And that’s what it’s all about.  And this isn’t make-work either:  The prisoners provide quality labor and services which are used in the Oblast and valued at a worth of 400 million rubles.

Other possibilities that await Navalny:  He could learn to play chess and enter a prize competition.  Or, he could discover that he has a wonderful singing voice, and, again, enter a prize competition for best song.

Other Perks

Colony inmates have the right to pursue a middle or higher education curriculum via distance learning.  It’s not free though, they have to pay for it.  At the end they receive a degree or certification in their chosen specialty.

Conjugal visits take place in a room like this one.

Prisoners also have the right for visitation with relatives; it’s usually just a short visit with chatting through a window; but at some point, depending on the course of the pandemic, Navalny might even be able to enjoy conjugal visits with his wife, Julia, in a special 3-storey building with little hotel rooms built for that humanitarian purpose.

The Colony also has a library, it goes without saying.  And terminals where inmates can get expert legal advice.

And in addition to all of that, there is a little Orthodox chapel where prisoners can repent of their sins and find God, if they wish to.  Dostoevsky would approve.

This entry was posted in Navalniana, True Crime and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Navalny’s New Life

  1. Gareth says:

    In my youth I did a one year stretch in a maximum security prison for possession of an insignificant amount of cannabis. One of the things I found most surprising was that the violent criminals were extremely patriotic, jingoistic really. I wonder if the same holds true for Russian prisons and how the inmates will react to the presence of a traitor. Given Navalny’s famous video comparing immigrants to cockroaches who should be shot, let’s hope he doesn’t run into any Dagestanis or Chechens. The prison authorities would do well to keep a close eye on him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yalensis says:

      Hi, Gareth, I am so sorry you had to serve time for cannabis, that seems so unfair. I don’t actually believe that any drugs should be illegal, let alone marijuana which is more like a sedative or pain-killer for certain people. Not into it myself, but why should I begrudge others?
      Anyhow, that doesn’t surprise me about the violent criminals being patriotic. I honestly don’t know that much about Russian prisons or their inmates. But I imagine there are probably quite a lot of Caucasians in there. Let’s hope, for Navalny’s sake, that the prison guards are as alert as they advertise themselves to be.
      Well, who knows, maybe Navalny will make friends with some Chechens, be reformed of his racist stereotypes, and they can put on a dance together at the recital hall, perform the Lezginka, or whatever…! (I see a movie script in my mind’s eye, like a buddy-movie odd-couple type comedy set in a Russian prison camp…)

      Like

      • et Al says:

        But I imagine there are probably quite a lot of Caucasians in there.

        Thanks for the unitentional laugh there, yelensis! The irony of course is that western ‘caucasians’ (aka ‘whites’/whatever) wouldn’t look at eastern ‘caucasians’ as ‘caucasians.’

        Like

        • yalensis says:

          Haha! I too find it funny whenever I happen to use the word “Caucasian”.
          There are certain words in English that are simply funny in and of themselves, and especially when used in a sentence. Back in the day, “white” people were supposed to declare themselves on census surveys as “Caucasians”. Russians would laugh!

          Like

  2. James lake says:

    How do you rehabilitate a conman and traitor.

    His brother was in prison for fraud and comes out and is still part of Navalny grifting organisation. Look at pussy riot – no change.

    His behaviour suggests that he feels untouchable –
    Will that self confidence be shattered?

    He thinks that this is all that is going to happen to him

    I expect that it will be shattered when he is brought to trial again – for other crimes as I think they will charge him with treason. There is no rush – he is in prison after all

    Like

    • yalensis says:

      Q: “How do you rehabilitate a conman and traitor?”
      A: “The old-fashioned way: by teaching him a profession and giving him an honest job!”

      Like

  3. Pavlo Svolochenko says:

    The second week in Lent, his turn came to take the sacrament with his gang. He went to church and prayed with the others. A quarrel broke out one day, he did not know how. All fell on him at once in a fury.

    “You’re an infidel! You don’t believe in God,” they shouted. “You ought to be killed.”

    Like

    • yalensis says:

      Is that from Ivan Vasilievich? I don’t recognize the quote!

      Like

      • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

        Crime and Punishment, although unlike Rodion Raskolnikov Navalny didn’t have any heroic and selfless acts in his favour at sentencing.

        Like

        • yalensis says:

          Ow, I should have recognized that one, I am ashamed! Forgive me, Comrade Raskolnikov.

          Like

          • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

            And if only fate would have sent him repentance–burning repentance that would have torn his heart and robbed him of sleep, that repentance, the awful agony of which brings visions of hanging or drowning! Oh, he would have been glad of it! Tears and agonies would at least have been life. But he did not repent of his crime.

            Like

  4. Mark Chapman says:

    I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss Navalny’s violent tendencies – didn’t he first come to public attention, years ago, as a result of some altercation in a nightclub or bar, where he chased his rival into the street and shot him a couple of times with a pellet gun? I distinctly remember it, back when pretty much nobody had ever heard of him, but I can’t find any reference to it now.

    Anyway, that said, you’re right, and Navalny is a cream puff compared with some of the prisoners who must be incarcerated there. He should keep his mouth shut and his head down, but I think he has too big an ego and regards himself as some kind of celebrity. That could make his time hard indeed, as that’s just the sort of attitude they like to kick out of you – that you are special, and deserve special treatment.

    Like

    • yalensis says:

      I wasn’t aware of that nightclub story, I never heard that, but it doesn’t surprise me. Even white collar criminals can have a violent side, I reckon, when their goals are thwarted, or if they get drunk at a bar.

      I was also thinking of Navalny’s video in which he calls for Russian people people to buy guns and shoot Caucasians. But I sort of discounted that, because it’s just a video, and people say a lot of things.
      From what I understand, Navalny stems from a family of white-collar criminals, his parents being in the business of selling illegal moonshine out of the back of their wicker furniture store. Navalny was the member of the family who was slated to become a lawyer, sort of like the Robert Duvall Consigliere character in The Godfather. But then Navalny’s career took on an interesting turn, when he discovered there was much more money to be made as a political “dissident”. Even so, I am not aware of any violence in his past; but you never know… Let us hope that the Colony is as well run as they claim to be, and that nobody gets hurt while in custody. That should never happen in a civilized country with a civilized penal system.

      Like

      • nicolaavery says:

        Yasha Levine talks about that incident in first 20 mins https://yasha.substack.com/p/episode-6-navalny-the-kremlin-and

        Like

        • Mark Chapman says:

          Thanks, Nicola! I can’t see it, it is labeled for subscribers only, but I vaguely remember it being discussed at A Good Treaty, which was Kevin Rothrock’s site back when he had pangs of conscience over how Russia was treated, but was a protege of Leon Aron at the American Enterprise Institute and could not really say anything under his own name. By the time he felt comfortable enough to identify himself, his attitude had changed and he now works for Meduza, which is about as anti-Russian as you can get.

          Anyway, Navalny; yes, it was something about an argument in a public venue, and the fiery Navalny chased his opponent into the street and allegedly shot him several times with a pellet gun. Other articles have pointed out that he keeps guns at home with the approval of his wife (because, you know, his opinions are unpopular and you never know when The Kremlin will get so terrified that it will break down the door and kill him), and given the various photos we have seen of him posed with dead birds and small animals, I would assume they are hunting weapons.

          Like

          • nicolaavery says:

            Yes Yasha was working for / co-running The Exile with Mark Ames in 2007 and went to the nightclub for a political debate event with ppl like Navalny speaking. Apparently some drunk guys came in and starred heckling. One got into argument with him and they went outside to fight but instead Navalny shot him with rubber bullets at close range. Yasha says he emptied his clip on they guy.

            Like

            • yalensis says:

              That wasn’t very nice. Thanks goodness it was only rubber bullets though, and not real ones.
              Hey! where the eff did Navalny get a gun with rubber bullets? Do you just go and, like, buy them somewhere?

              Like

      • Mark Chapman says:

        Speaking of Navalny’s family, his grandfather – Ivan Tarasovich Navalny – was allegedly an auxiliary policeman for the Nazis. That’s according to journalists allegedly working for BBC Ukraine.

        https://www.stalkerzone.org/aleksey-navalny-is-the-grandson-of-a-nazi-auxiliary-policeman/

        Like

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Большой привет из Москвы, Yalensis!

        Hope you are well.

        I well remember that kerfuffle in which Navalny, as per usual, got off lightly:

        October 30, 2007. in the Moscow club “Gogol”, Maria Gaidar began to publicly insult the President of the Russian Federation and Russia. Then one of those present got up and reported about the intimate relationship between Gaidar and Navalny.

        In response, Navalny drew his pistol and began shooting at him.

        fight broke out, the police arrived – and Nikita Belykh got Navalny off the hook. After a six-month trial, the case of Navalny’s attack on Teziev was dropped.

        Soon Belykh became governor of the Kirov region, and Gaidar became the youngest vice-governor of that region. The nimble Gaidar started a love affair with Belykh …

        source

        Like

        • yalensis says:

          Привет, Exile! Methinks you proved your point, namely that Navalny IS a violent criminal! Not to mention trigger happy and all too familiar with guns. Wow!

          Like

  5. Jen says:

    I think it worth dredging up convicted murderer Evgenia Khasis’ letter about her encounters with Pussy Rioter Nadia Tolokonnikova, originally published in Komsomolskaya Pravda (28 September 2013) and later translated into English and posted by Moscow Exile for Anatoly Karlin’s old blog, to get an idea of how Alexei Navalny might behave himself in the penal colony in Vladimir oblast. As folks will see, Nadia Tolok comported herself with all the two-faced ingratitude she could muster. The prison and inmate population treated her fairly well and yet at the first opportunity Tolok took to drawing attention to herself, complaining about the way the prison was treating her and accusing inmates of making threats against her. Navalny is very likely to do the same.

    Like

    • yalensis says:

      Hi, Jen,
      Agree that Nadia is a miserable example of a human being and comported herself, while in the colony, like the narcissistic ungrateful wretch that she is. Like you say, she was treated well and fairly, the authorities even took the time to teach her an honorable profession, by training her in the use of an industrial sewing machine. Not everybody gets to learn such a skill for free. After leaving the colony, she could have rehabilitated herself and set up her own sewing shop, like Vera Pavlovna in Chernyshevsky’s book.

      Well, what can I say, Nadia is a typical Me-Generation egomaniac. Tchaikovsky should have written a dance for her, “The Dance of the Snowflake Princess”. They should call her Comrade Karen!

      Like

    • et Al says:

      I have to agree Jen. The worst thing that could happen to brand ‘Navalny’ is that there is no reporting – sic no news is bad news. Being ignored by the media/western pols/luvvies & darlings is their worst nightmare. I’m sure his team has already a comprehensive PR plan worked out to keep him in the headlines come what may.

      Like

  6. FatMax says:

    Dayum, this place looks almost cozy. He should enjoy his time here, since “Black Dolphin” will not be so comfy.
    Where do the Russians send their convicted traitors nowadays, anyway?

    Like

    • yalensis says:

      I was thinking the same thing: Unless they’re lying, this place looks great!
      Can I go there? I want to help organize the concert, I could do the lighting, or even work as a stage manager. I want to learn machine-tooling, I want to learn how to operate a sewing machine. These are things I always wanted to do but never had the chance! And the Russian government would totally pay for everything.

      Like

  7. peter moritz says:

    I don’t know how representative this is of the prison system throughout Russia, but that what I can see this is more akin to units in North European countries and far away from what I have seen of the USA system.
    The system there is utterly dehumanising, with apparently little supervision considering the murders, stabbings, infliction of bodily harm and rapes that happen there.
    In view of that – maybe model prison – one can only say to the USA – shut the fuck up and fix your own shit in your own country before complaining about human rights abuses in other countries.

    Like

    • yalensis says:

      Totally agree. American prison system is a horror show, everybody knows that.

      Like

    • Moscow Exile says:

      It’s whats called an “open prison” in the UK. There’s a fence, but you can easily abscond: its only symbolical, but if you do run, you get sent straight back to a closed prison, a penitentiary, and spend the rest of your time there in a “slammer”, a cell, and get time added on for running. You also get your prison uniform altered: your denim jeans get a bright yellow insert stitched into the length of one leg and you get a big yellow square inserted into the back of your denim jacket. They’re not stitched on, both the yellow leg stripe and the big square; you can’t rip them off: they’re inserted into the material.

      I spent part of my convicted time in an open prison, a former RAF base, having been transferred there after doing some time in Her Majesty’s Prison Manchester, built in the 1880s I think. I was transferred to an open prison because I was a goody-two-shoes.

      As an inmate of the “open”, I played rugby for the prison team. I was a good player: I played for a club until my early 30s, so the prison guard who ran the team immediately got me on the team. We only played home matches though.

      Like

  8. peter moritz says:

    AFAIK – this type doesn’t even exist in the USA. The only “open prison” in the States that I know of was the facility run by Sherriff Arpaio.
    https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/aug/21/arizona-phoenix-concentration-camp-tent-city-jail-joe-arpaio-immigration

    Like

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