Navalny Sues Russian Prison For Failing To Give Him Winter Boots

Jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny says he is suing the prison where he is incarcerated for failing to give him winter boots.

Navalny, who is currently being held in solitary confinement, said in a series of tweets on November 21 that he needs the boots to walk in during the 90 minutes of exercise he is allowed each day, even if the area "is an ice-covered concrete well smaller than my cell."

"Don't laugh. They don't issue them at all. And I really need them. It's been weeks since the whole colony switched to winter clothes, and my evil prison guards are brazenly not giving me my winter boots," he said.

The 46-year-old Navalny was arrested in January last year upon his arrival 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 because of his convalescence abroad. The original conviction is widely regarded as a trumped-up, politically motivated case.

In March he was handed a nine-year prison term on charges of contempt and embezzlement through fraud that he and his supporters have repeatedly rejected as politically motivated.

Navalny said the boots were a "perfect example" of the "cunning and thoughtfulness" of Russia's penitentiary pressure system.

"You don't get winter boots. That means you either don't go out for a walk (and suffer) or you do go out and get sick (which has already happened to me). Getting a cold is nothing if you're at home with a blanket, tea and honey," he said.

"But in a cell where hot water only comes in three cups -- for breakfast, lunch, and dinner -- getting sick is strongly discouraged, even if it's just a cold. If you get sick, you will have to ask the administration for things like pills, medical care, woolen socks, etc.," he added.

The anti-corruption campaigner, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's most vocal critics, said that making you ill was a method prison officials use to gain leverage.

"The administration will start to twist your arm and demand that you give up some of your positions. Prison struggle is a never-ending search for mutual vulnerabilities. And the stupid winter boots make me vulnerable," he said.

Navalny told his supporters not to worry, however, saying he was not complaining and appreciated the letters of support he continually receives.

He also urged people to "go do something to bring Russia closer to freedom."