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Navalny vows to sue Russian prison for withholding Koran

navalny vows to sue russian prison for withholding koran

(FILES) This handout file photograph handout provided by the Babushkinsky district court on February 12, 2021, shows Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, charged with defaming a World War II veteran, standing inside a glass cell during a court hearing in Moscow. – Russian prison officials are threatening to start force-feeding jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, his team said on April 12, 2021, after he lost eight kilograms (18 pounds) since starting a hunger strike. (Photo by Handout / Moscow’s Babushkinsky district court press service / AFP) /

Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said Tuesday he was suing prison officials for denying him access to the Muslim holy book, the Koran, in his penal colony outside Moscow.

Navalny, who is serving a two-and-a-half year sentence on old embezzlement charges, was jailed in February after returning to Russia from Germany where he was receiving treatment for a poisoning attack.

Russia’s most prominent opposition figure announced a hunger strike two weeks ago to demand adequate medical treatment and his allies said this week that authorities had threatened to force feed him.

Navalny said he was taking legal action against prison authorities because “they won’t give me my Koran. And it’s infuriating.”

“When I was jailed, I made a list of ways I wanted to improve myself that I will try to complete in jail. One of the points was to deeply study and understand the Koran,” he wrote.

“Books are our everything, and if you have to sue for the right to read, I will sue,” he said.

Navalny, 44, came under fire early in his political career for making nationalistic comments and deriding immigrants in Russia from predominantly Muslim countries in Central Asia.

His post came one day after many Muslims around the world started Ramadan after religious leaders confirmed the month of fasting would begin on Tuesday.

In his Instagram post Tuesday, Navalny said he had read the Koran before but had not internalised its core tenets.

“I realised that my development as a Christian also requires studying the Koran,” he wrote.

Navalny’s lawyers and allies are demanding that he be transferred to a regular hospital. The Kremlin has said that Navalny is not entitled to any special treatment.

Navalny has been a thorn in the Kremlin’s side for a decade by probing corruption among officials and leading large protests throughout Russia.

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