Moscow—The imprisoned leader of the Russian opposition, Aleksei A. Navalny, was denied an interview by his doctor and lawyer.
But this week there was an unlikely visitor to the notoriously harsh punishment colony: Maria Butina, the only one who has had political influence on Russia during and after the U.S. sentence and the 2016 election. Investigating the activities of the Russians concerned. Now, she works for RT, the Kremlin TV station.
According to messages posted on social media by supporters of Ms. Butina and Mr. Navani, the face-to-face encounter between the two seemed to be interrupted by mutual insults.
Earlier this week, Ms. Butina mocked Mr. Navalny in an online post, telling her that her health was deteriorating in the second prison in the Vladimir region east of Moscow, which began with its initials IK2. The prison is worse. “Are you a man?” She wrote on Wednesday.
According to Navani supporters, the visit on Thursday appeared to be an attempt to convey the same message in person.
Navani’s Telegram channel said: “Today, unfortunately, RT TV propagandist Butina took the place of the doctor and came there with the camera.” “She yelled that this is the best and most comfortable prison.”
Mr. Navani survived a poisoning with a military nerve agent last year and was medically evacuated to Berlin. He returned to Russia voluntarily in January and was arrested at the airport. In February of this year, he was sentenced to more than two years in prison.
According to his lawyer, in prison, Mr. Navani suffered undiagnosed back and leg pain. He said Mr. Navani could not rule out the lingering effects of poisoning. Mr. Navani said that he suffered from a lumbar disc herniation due to being in a jail transporter, and he lost sensation in both legs.
He and his lawyer said that because the security had classified him as a flying hazard, although he was arrested when he returned to Russia voluntarily, he also suffered from lack of sleep because the security personnel classified him at night.
Supporters of Mr. Navani said that the prison authorities deliberately inflicted cruel torture on him, while also quickly accounting for enough trivial violations, such as being 10 minutes late or wearing a T-shirt when meeting with his lawyer to send him to prison. . If they choose to punish the block. For other Russian dissidents, this is a painful example.
On Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Angela Merkel) in a tripartite video conference with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin , Expressed concern about the deterioration of Navalny’s health. The Kremlin said that Mr. Navani received adequate health care.
Navani announced a hunger strike on Wednesday until he was allowed to see a specialist.
The response prompted Ms. Butina to post a mocking comment online and then personally comment in prison.
Ms. Butina wrote on the messaging service Telegram on Wednesday: “For Navalny, this is a new method of hunger strike.” “It is as old as the world.”
She wrote that his purpose was to attract attention abroad, and that others in Russian prisons had tried to do this before. “Look at what poor people we are,” she wrote of what the hunger strike protesters intended to convey.
“Lisa, are you a man?” she wrote, referring to Mr. Navani’s last name. “I’m tired of complaining. He is one of the best criminal colonies in Russia.”
Ms. Butina said in a post last Friday that Mr. Navani looks very robust to her. She said the warden told her that Mr. Navani had refused medical services from the prison doctor.
After the visit she wrote: “Navalny’s walking is absolutely normal.” “He doesn’t look like a’person who is not allowed to sleep.’ I can judge from the time I spent in American prisons.”
When describing their experience, Ms. Butina wrote that Mr. Navalny had been standing among the prisoners. She wrote that when he saw her, he “threw at insults immediately.” She also wrote that she asked him: “Do you know the difference between a prison and a resort?”
Ms. Butina is serving her sentence at the Federal Correctional Facility in Tallahassee, Florida. In a memoir published after returning to Russia, Ms. Butina wrote that she was terrified when she met transgender people in prison and was sent to the United States. Solitary confinement.
According to his post on the “Telecom” channel, the version of Mr. Navani and Ms. Butina’s encounter differs in content, but at least it seems to be consistent with her claim that this is an insulting communication.
The post stated that Mr. Navani “gave a 15-minute speech in front of the convicted person, calling her a parasite and servant of the thief government.”
It is not clear how this information was obtained and posted to his Telegram channel. Mr. Navani has communicated information through lawyers in the past, and others have posted in his name.
Navani’s assistant said that RT (the TV station was originally called “Russia Today”) had sent Ms. Butina to his prison, but did not respond to inquiries about the visit.