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Navalny Establishes One-Man Labor Union In Russian Penal Colony.

Jailed Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny (file photo)

Jailed Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny (file photo)

Jailed Russian opposition politician and outspoken Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny has established a labor union in the penal colony where he is currently being held.
Navalny tweeted on August 11 that the name of the labor union he created is Promzona (Industrial Zone). Promzona is the official name of parts of penal colonies across many former Soviet countries in which factories and plants are located.
Navalny said the labor union, which currently has just one member -- himself -- was established due to the exploitation of around 600,000 people in Russia's penitentiaries, adding that he would also be happy to represent the interests of the guards if they wanted him to do so.
"Basically, if life has given me a lemon in the form of a prison sentence, then I need to turn it into the lemonade of at least some useful activity for society," Navalny said. According to Navalny, other inmates were more worried than the prison's guards about the creation of the union.
"Each time I talk about it, my fellow murderers sadly say: 'Aleksei, stop it, please. Because of you they will never let us out at all, and all this will end badly,'" Navalny said, explaining that is why his is a one-man union. Navalny added that his labor union had already won some victories , citing the penal colony's administration providing inmates seated at sewing machines with proper chairs. This was an improvement over stools, which had hurt their backs.

Navalny was arrested in January last year upon his return to Moscow from Germany, where he was treated for a poison attack with what European labs defined as a Soviet-style nerve agent.
He was then handed a 2 1/2-year prison sentence for violating the terms of an earlier parole during his convalescence abroad. The original conviction is widely regarded as a trumped-up, politically motivated case. In March, Navalny was sentenced in a separate case to nine years in prison on embezzlement and contempt charges that he and his supporters have repeatedly rejected as politically motivated. He was transferred in June to Correctional Colony No. 6 in the town of Melekhovo in the Vladimir region east of Moscow after the Moscow City Court rejected his appeal against the nine-year jail term.

Navalny is still able to use Twitter and other social media through his representatives.

With reporting by dpa

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