Alexei Navalny died in cruel ‘Polar Wolf’ gulag

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Even within Russia’s notorious penal colony system, prison FGU IK-3, or the Polar Wolf as it is more commonly known, has a reputation for cruelty.

In winter temperatures of -30C, prisoners are ordered to gather outside for morning roll call wearing only light clothing. In spring, swarms of mosquitoes bite through their uniforms. If any of the prisoners flinch, the group is hosed down with water.

Beatings and naked stints in isolation cells are common. Guards force prisoners to march between blocks, sing patriotic songs and recite the Russian national anthem.

The prison, where Alexei Navalny, Russia’s top opposition leader, died in mysterious circumstances, is part of a network of about 700 penal colonies scattered across the country.

Among the more than 460,000 inmates locked up inside are the Kremlin’s political prisoners – Russian opposition leaders, Western journalists, civil society leaders and activists – who fell foul of Vladimir Putin’s regime.

According to Memorial, once Russia’s foremost human rights before it was banned, the number of people designated as political prisoners in Russia has more than tripled since 2018, reaching 676.

Since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the ranks of political prisoners have grown, with dozens of people being sentenced under tough new laws punishing dissent over the war.


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Chuck comes from a lineage of journalism. He has written for some of the webs most popular news sites. He enjoys spending time outdoors, bull riding, and collecting old vinyl records. Roll Tide!