The wife of jailed Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny visited her husband in a Russian prison “for a long date,” Navalny said on August 5 on social media.
Navalny, who has been in the prison in the town of Pokrov about 100 kilometers east of Moscow for six months, posted a photo on Instagram showing him smiling widely as he and his wife, Yulia, embrace. “We reconstructed the dacha dinner. And yesterday I was sitting completely happy, looking at a pan of sorrel borscht (in our family its cult) and a pan of fried potatoes,” Navalny said on Instagram.
Yulia Navalnaya, who was allowed to stay for three days, also used Instagram to post a message about the visit. "I spent some time in prison. So cool!" she wrote, saying her husband, who spent 24-days on a hunger strike in April, appeared skinny, tanned, and smiling when he was brought out to greet her in a prison jumpsuit. "The loved one is there. You reach out and touch, still a little surprised that no one is trying to stop you," Navalnaya wrote. She described the family meeting facilities at the prison as having "a very decent look of a 2-star hotel," with a couple of rooms, a kitchen, and paintings on the walls. Navalny, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most-vocal critics, is serving 2 1/2 years in jail for parole violations in an embezzlement case he says was trumped up. Navalny's allies accuse the authorities of using the law to crush dissent ahead of Russia’s parliamentary elections in September.
Navalny was arrested in January upon his return from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning in August last year that he blames on the Kremlin -- accusations that Russian officials reject.
A Moscow court in February converted a 3 1/2-year suspended sentence on the embezzlement charge to real jail time, saying he broke the terms of the original sentence by leaving Russia for the life-saving treatment he received in Germany. The court reduced the sentence to just over 2 1/2 years because of time already served in detention. Yulia Navalnaya said she brought in everything her husband had told her he was missing and said the guards “carefully inspect the borsch,” checking for a mobile phone, and cut into items searching for drugs and sniffing drinks for alcohol. After the three days were over she said her husband was dressed in a robe again and taken away. She said her husband, who recently had his ability to communicate with the outside world further curtailed, sends "warmest greetings to everyone." Last week a court rejected Navalny's lawsuit against a decision that bans his lawyers from bringing mobile phones and laptop computers into the penitentiary during visits, and Russia's media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, blocked Navalny’s website in a crackdown against media and civil organizations ahead of the elections.