Staunton, Aug. 10 – Aleksey Navalny is not the only political prisoner in the Russian Federation whom the authorities are now targeting to increase their sentences and confirm them in ever harsher conditions. Airat Dilmuhametov is being subject to much the same, although his case has attracted far less attention.
The Bashkir advocate of federalism for the Russian Federation has been in prison since 2020 because of his outspokenness. (On his views and the Kremlin’s opposition to him, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/06/imprisoned-for-advocating-federalism-in.html windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/08/russian-court-sentences-dilmukhametov.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/08/kremlin-gave-direct-order-for.html.)
Since his incarceration, Dilmukhametov has continued to speak out, smuggling out commentaries about conditions outside (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2023/02/putins-is-imperialism-of-idiots.html.) In response, the penal authorities have placed him in ever worse prison camps and now want to extend his sentence via a closed courtroom (idelreal.org/a/32540614.html).
Dilmukhametov’s actions and treatment, like those of Navalny, suggest that the penal authorities are worried about losing control over their prisoners much as happened at the end of Soviet times and have decided to crack down hard on the most public of these prisoners of conscience.
But what is especially worrisome is that what is happening in these two cases represents a more general change in Kremlin policy, one in which even after being tried and convicted, opponents of Putin’s dictatorship may be visited with ever-increasing punishments unless they tow the line while in prison.
Consequently, it is important that people of good conscience in the West and in Russia speak out not only on behalf of Navalny but also for Dilmukhametov and others less well know lest the Putin regime think it can get away with this medieval violation of rights and use it to suppress all opposition in the country.