After emerging from a coma and recovering from a poisoning, Alexei Navalny has another difficult stretch ahead of him. News reports in Russia said Monday that the opposition figure is being sent to a prison infamous for its treatment of inmates. Navalny will avoid Siberia or the Arctic, sites of Russia's most brutal prisons, the New York Times reports; Penal Colony No. 2 is east of Moscow in the Vladimir region in European Russia. It's a largely unchanged descendant of the 1930s Soviet gulag camps. Several dozen inmates live in each group, with the prisoners usually meting out discipline, in alliances with guards or criminal gang leaders. Former prisoners at Penal Colony No. 2 said it's run by an inmate-guard alliance in conjunction with the warden, which will ensure prison officials can control every aspect of Navalny's life.
"Everything is done so a person feels his total dependence" on the warden, a lawyer said. "Everything is done to isolate political prisoners." The colony has a reputation for enforcing the rules, sometimes with the help of separate places inside the prison where inmates are taken to be punished. Inmates must stand for hours with their hands behind their backs, for example, looking at the ground, a former political prisoner said. They're watched when they go to the toilet. "Your personality deforms," he said. Navalny was ordered imprisoned for two years, eight months after losing an appeal last month of his sentencing involving his supposed violation of the terms of an earlier suspended sentence. The European Union on Monday sanctioned four Russian officials over Navalny's prosecution, and the Biden administration is planning its own sanctions, per CNN. The US penalties will affect individuals and Russian bodies, an official said. (Read more Alexei Navalny stories.)