Navalny asks court to halt hourly nighttime prison checks

Navalny asks court to halt hourly nighttime prison checks
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Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny is requesting that prison staff end their hourly nighttime checks on him, pushing back on authorities’ argument that the opposition leader is a flight risk. 

Navalny during a court appearance via video link from prison Monday told a Russian judge, “I just want them to stop coming to me and waking me up at night-time,” according to The Associated Press

“What did I do: Did I climb the fence? Did I dig up an underpass? Or was I wringing a pistol from someone?” he questioned in remarks that were broadcast from from the independent Russian outlet Dozhd TV. 

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“Just explain why they named me a flight risk!” Navalny demanded before the court adjourned to resume the hearing Wednesday. 

Navalny told the judge “you would go mad in a week” if subjected to the same hourly check-ups, which the vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinDemocrats find a tax Republicans can support Biden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on Biden says Russia spreading misinformation ahead of 2022 elections MORE argued “effectively amount to torture,” the AP reported. 

The opposition leader was arrested in January after spending five months in Germany recovering from a nerve agent poisoning that he and international leaders have blamed on the Kremlin. 

However, Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incident. 

Navalny in February was sentenced to nearly three years in prison after a judge ruled that the opposition leader violated a parole order from his 2014 embezzlement conviction while he was in Germany recovering from the poisoning. 

Last week, Navalny announced that he was the subject of three additional criminal investigations, including allegations of theft of donations from his anti-corruption foundation FBK, as well as human rights violations. 

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Navalny and his lawyers have repeatedly sought to bring attention to allegations of harsh prison conditions, and the opposition leader started a hunger strike in late March over complaints regarding access to medical care in prison. 

He last month announced he would be ending the strike after a Russian physician said that Navalny could “die at any moment."

The opposition leader said in a court appearance days later that he looked like “an awful skeleton” after losing dozens of pounds during his strike. 

Navalny has also accused government officials of censoring newspapers delivered to him in prison, alleging that guards have cut out articles from papers and have also denied him access to the Quran, which he has argued he needs for religious study. 

Russia’s alleged involvement in the Navalny poisoning and its treatment of the Kremlin critic has further escalated rifts in the already tense relationship between the U.S. and Russia, with the Biden administration imposing a series of sanctions against the country for "abuse of human rights."