The jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has appeared by video link in his first court session since he was transferred to a high-security prison earlier this month.
Navalny has faced near-total isolation since his arrest early last year. On Tuesday, the court rejected his appeal that his lawyers be allowed recording equipment while visiting him in custody.
It was a rare appearance for the Russian opposition leader, who has been sentenced to more than a decade in prison in a series of cases that appear designed to keep him behind bars indefinitely.
Navalny, who appeared gaunt but spirited, told reporters during a recess that his new prison was “mega-high security” but said the food was better than in his previous prison colony.
He has said that he expects to be in prison as long as Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, is alive. Allies say that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Kremlin’s international isolation make it even less likely he will emerge from jail in the near future.
Navalny’s court appearance came on the same day as Ilya Yashin, an ally and prominent anti-war activist in Russia, was detained and jailed for 15 days on an administrative charge. His friends fear that the authorities are planning to bring more severe charges against him for “discrediting the armed forces”.
The formal reason for the arrest was a claim by a Russian police officer that Yashin had refused to show his documents upon request, grabbing the officer by his uniform and calling him a rude name.
“I’m reading the report and am myself surprised what a bastard I turn out to be,” Yashin joked, saying the real reason for the arrest was his opposition to the war.
Vladimir Kara-Murza, another Russian opposition figure, was jailed in late April for 15 days before being charged with discrediting the armed forces.