(Reuters) – Russia’s Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a challenge by the jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny to prison officials’ refusal to give him writing equipment, the Russian independent news site Mediazona reported.
Navalny, the only opposition leader of recent times capable of bringing thousands onto the streets, is serving 11-1/2 years on fraud and other charges that he says were trumped up to silence him. He is also on trial for a host of further offences that could keep him in prison for decades more.
The former lawyer has spent much of his time in the IK-6 penal colony in Melekhovo, about 235 km (145 miles) east of Moscow, in solitary confinement for alleged contraventions of prison regulations such as failure to do up his top button, but has nevertheless repeatedly challenged the prison regime.
His complaint alleged that the authorities had no right to deny him the pen and paper that were provided to all inmates, merely because he was in a punishment cell without a table, or because there was no space in his prison schedule for writing.
“I’m not asking for extra food, I’m not asking for a Christmas tree to be put in my cell … we’re talking about the basic human right to have a pen in the cell and a sheet of paper to write a letter or (complaint) to the court,” Mediazona quoted Navalny as telling the judge.
“In order to have them fetch a can of coffee out of my things and bring it to the cell, I have to write an application.”
Navalny’s complaint had made it through a series of lower courts before being definitively thrown out by the Supreme Court.
(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey and David Gregorio)
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