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"Put yourself in the shoes of Alexei Navalny": his supporters install a replica of his cell in Paris


REPORT – Until the end of March, supporters of the Russian opponent set up a life-size cell in the square Michel Caldaguès in Paris to warn about his conditions of detention.

Behind the Palais du Louvres, in the center of a square in bloom, stands a block of cold concrete, dirty gray, covered with blue, white and red graffiti.


Free Navalny

", "

Stop Putin's terror

": visitors and supporters are invited to leave a message on the walls of this exact replica of the cell where the Russian opponent is locked up.

It had been presented for the first time in Berlin, in front of the Russian Embassy.

Accessible to the public every day and at any time, the installation is supervised by supporters of Alexeï Navalny.

On the front line, his brother Oleg and members of his Anti-corruption Foundation who are available to tell visitors about his conditions of imprisonment.

To discover

  • Follow information on the war in Ukraine with the Figaro application

On its right side, an explanatory panel summarizes the objective of the experience: “

Put yourself in the shoes of Alexeï Navalny.

Come in and experience for a moment what it feels like to be Putin's main enemy in Russia


An immersive experience, which its supporters justify by insisting on the world that separates Russian prisons from Western prisons: without entering them, without feeling, one would be unable to really imagine what such incarceration represents.

The " Shizo

" cell

is the most severe form of the Russian prison system.

If Alexeï Navalny does not reside there at the moment, “

he spent 91

days there during the year 2022, and is regularly sent there for fanciful reasons.

says a young volunteer.

Ilyana is Russian, asylum seeker in France for several months, and spontaneously offered to show the cell.

" The maximum length of incarceration in a Shizo cell is

in principle


days ", but he is often sent back there for various pretexts: "

He washed his face five minutes too early, did not put on his hands behind his back while walking in the prison, badly buttoned his uniform...

" she lists.

Conditions of detention

Alexei Navalny has been a prisoner in Russia since January 2021. He was found guilty of having violated his judicial control by traveling to Germany where he was treated after being poisoned, in August 2020. Since then, his sentence has been regularly increased by the Russian courts for reasons that remain unclear.

His foundation, publishes on Twitter a count of his days in prison, which amounts to "

798 days of illegitimate detention

" today.

A quick glance is enough to go around the cell.

A crude metal plate hung on the wall serves as a berth at night, and as a table during the day.

Near the door, a Turkish toilet and a sink in poor condition are the only hygiene resources.

On this subject, the volunteer who presents the premises insists: “

The worst thing is the total lack of hygiene in this type of cell.

Added to this is the darkness in which the prisoner lives, he has very little light, it is very difficult mentally.

“And to detail the Spartan schedule of these penitentiary systems:

“He is woken up every day at 5 am.

Visits are prohibited.

He can write half an hour a day, and regularly transmits the fruit of his thoughts to his lawyers when he receives them.

This is how they feed the official social networks of the political opponent: on Twitter, on Instagram, he shares his thoughts, his comments on the news, and speaks publicly to his family.

The cell is lit by a narrow skylight, and deprives the detainees of light most of the time.

Jeanne Fayol / LE FIGARO

The cell measures 2.50 m by 3 m.


A radio hung on the wall continuously broadcasts instructions from the prison, "

Russian music, and Russian propaganda

", explains the volunteer.

Detainees can change the channel, but they cannot turn it off during the day, and are therefore subject to constant noise.

In short, the cell is "


" identical to that known to Alexeï Navalny, with the exception of the camera which monitors him day and night, which his supporters did not place in the replica because of his cost too high.

Winning the Information Battle

According to Ilyana, the cell receives a steady stream of visitors.

From memory, she says that about “

half of them are Russian, the other half French.

We also receive a good number of Ukrainians, but sometimes they don't like Navalny


The young Russian attributes these reactions to "


he had on Ukraine

, which they misunderstood, misunderstood...

" The opponent's positions are divisive to say the least, and estimate the proportion of Russians who support him in secret remains difficult.

For the volunteer, "

40% support him, but they can't say it


Moreover, most are unaware of this traveling initiative across Europe.

In any case, this publicity stunt places severe treatment in the eyes of Westerners.

People come, take pictures, share information.

We are waging this information battle, which helps and raises awareness of the cause, as the

Oscar for the film on Navalny was able to do



A crowd of visitors throng to the entrance on the day of the inauguration, March 14, 2023 in Paris.


Visitors are invited to leave a message on the cell.

Jeanne Fayol / LE FIGARO

Cartels detail the cause supported by this reproduction, on the outer wall of the cell, in Paris, March 14, 2023. STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP

To the shock of the images, those responsible for this operation add the weight of words, and reproaches: the flyers distributed and inscriptions on the cell strongly challenge visitors to a form of Western complacency towards the Russian oligarchs.


Putin's corrupt officials are committing crimes in Russia and Ukraine, yet they are vacationing in France,"

a flyer read


Help us punish them!

For example, Lyudmila Ocheretnaya (Putin) has not yet been sanctioned.

They demand that “

Putin's friends be punished and their property seized


After Berlin, Düsseldorf and Paris, the cell will soon be exhibited in London.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2023-03-27

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