August 06, 2023

Cruel and Unusual


Cruel and Unusual

On August 4, at a final kangaroo court hearing at Correctional Colony № 6 in Vladimir Oblast, Alexei Navalny was convicted on trumped up charges of "extremism" and sentenced to an additional 19 years in prison at a special regime colony (колония особого режима). The former technical director of his Youtube channel "Navalny Live," Daniel Kholodny received an eight-year sentence at a "normal" prison.

Special regime colonies are the most severe places of detention in Russia. As Mediazona explained, such colonies are mainly located in remote regions (for example, there are two such colonies in the Arkhangelsk region, Transbaikalia, Khabarovsk Territory and Komi).

“Food at a strict regime colony is taken right in one's cell. There is an hour and a half of exercise, but only under supervision and there is a ban on communication with anyone. All movements are in handcuffs behind the back, under the supervision of guards, who may have dogs.
"It is forbidden to lie or sit on one's beds in one's cells outside the hours of lights out. Personal searches can occur at any time by decision of the administration, when leaving the cell and returning to it, before cleaning. You are allowed to wash twice a week for 15 minutes, and do exercises only during daily walks."

What this means is that Russia's main opposition politician will be entirely cut off from the outside world, so that the FSB can continue to slowly murder him away from prying eyes.

Navalny's Final Word in court, read by volunteers is below, followed by a translation of the full text into English.

 

 

Alexei Navalny's Final Word

Everyone in Russia knows that someone who seeks justice through the courts is completely defenseless. The case of such a person is hopeless. After all, if the matter has gone to court, then no power stands behind this person. Because in a country ruled by a criminal, controversial issues are resolved by bargaining, power, bribery, deceit, betrayal and other mechanisms out in real life, and not by some kind of law.

This was brilliantly demonstrated the other day, when those who were declared traitors and treasonous to the Motherland, who killed several officers of the Russian army in the morning before while an astonished Russia watched on, and by dinner they had agreed with someone about something and went home, to divide amongst themselves their suitcases filled with money. Moreover, the suitcases are not metaphorical, but real. They were even shown on Russian television.

Thus, the law and justice in Russia once again were put in their place. And it's not a prestigious one at all. You won't find them in court.

In general, the court has since turned into a platform where a citizen can only make a speech without (and this phrase is repeated hundreds of times in my indictment) "coordination with state authorities." True, for those who are especially cunning and may abuse the potentialities of judicial debate and the Last Word, they first came up with a closed court, and then a closed court on the territory of a prison.

Nevertheless, every opportunity must be taken to speak out, and, speaking now to an audience of eighteen people, seven of whom have placed black masks on their heads to cover their faces, I want to not just explain why I continue to fight against that unscrupulous evil that calls itself "state power of the Russian Federation," but also to urge you to do this with me.

Why not? Maybe you donned these masks because you are afraid of something human, of what you have, and what might be reflected on your face not covered by a balaclava? For example, the prison warden, who is now standing behind me, should know by virtue of his position what kind of courts I am facing. And so I explain to him about another criminal case and the upcoming trial, about the new term that threatens me. Each time he nods his head, closes his eyes and says: “I don’t understand you and I never will.” I should try to explain things to him.

The question of how to act is the main question of humankind. After all, everything around us is so complicated and so incomprehensible. People have run off their feet in search of a formula for doing the right thing. Looking for something to rely on when making a decision.

I really like the wording of our compatriot, Doctor of Philology, Professor Lotman. Speaking to students, he once said: “Man is always in an unforeseen situation. And for that he has two legs: conscience and intellect."

This is a very wise idea, I think. And a person must lean on both of these legs.

Relying only on conscience is intuitively correct. But abstract morality, which does not take into account human nature and the real world, will degenerate into either stupidity or atrocity, as has happened more than once.

But reliance on intelligence without conscience is what is now at the heart of the Russian state. Initially, this idea seemed logical to the elites. Using oil, gas, and other resources, we will build an unscrupulous, but cunning, modern, rational, ruthless state. We will become richer than the kings of former years. And we have so much oil that the population will get something. Using the world of contradictions and the vulnerability of democracy, we will become leaders and we will be respected. And if not, then at least they will fear us.

But the same thing happens everywhere. The intellect, not limited by conscience, whispers: take it, steal. If you are stronger, then your interests are always more important than the rights of others.

Not wanting to rely on the leg of conscience, my Russia made several big jumps, pushing everyone around, but then slipped and, with a roar, destroying everything around it, collapsed. And now it is floundering in a pool of either mud or blood, with broken bones, with a poor, looted population, and lying around them are tens of thousands of those who died in the most stupid and senseless war of the twenty-first century.

But sooner or later, of course, it will rise again. And it is down to us what it will rely on in the future.

I do what I think is consistent. Without any drama.

I love Russia. My intellect tells me that it is better to live in a free and prosperous country than in a corrupt and impoverished one. And as I stand here and look at this court, my conscience says that there will be no justice in such a court either for me or for anyone else. A country without a fair trial will never be prosperous. So – now the intellect says again – it will be reasonable and right of me to fight for an independent court, fair elections, to be against corruption, because then I will achieve my goal and be able to live in my free, prosperous Russia.

Perhaps it seems to you that I am crazy, and that you are all normal – after all, you can’t swim against the current. But I feel that you are out of your mind. You have just one God-given life, and how did you decide to waste it? To wrap robes over your shoulders, and these black masks on your head and protect those who are robbing you as well? To help someone who has 10 palaces to build an eleventh?

In order for a new person to come into the world, two people must agree in advance that they will make some kind of sacrifice. That new person must be birthed through pain, and then one will have to spend sleepless nights with him, and then raise a dog with him. Then walk the dog together.

And in the same way, in order for a new, free, rich country to be born, it must have parents. Those who want it. Someone who is waiting for it and is ready to make some kind of sacrifice for the sake of its birth. Knowing that it will be worth it. It is far from required that everyone go to jail. It's more like a lottery, and I drew that ticket. But making some kind of sacrifice or effort – everyone must do that

I am accused of inciting hatred towards representatives of the authorities and special services, toward judges and members of the United Russia party. No, I don't incite hatred. I just remember that a person has two legs: conscience and intellect. And when you get tired of falling down with this power, hurting your forehead and your future, when you finally understand that the rejection of conscience will eventually lead to the disappearance of the intellect, then maybe you will stand on those two legs that each a person should stand on, and together we can bring closer the Beautiful Russia of the Future.

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