On June 4, 2023, Alexey Navalny celebrated his 47th birthday in an isolation cell in a penal colony in the Vladimir region. He’s been punished with isolation 16 times since summer 2022. The oppositionist published a post on social media describing his feelings on passing his birthday in solitary confinement. He reminded his supporters that “some people are willing to pay for their right to hold beliefs,” and greeted all his fellow political prisoners in Russia, Belarus, and other countries, saying “Most of them have it much harder than I do.” Meduza is sharing a translation of Navalny’s post in full.
Today is my birthday. And when I woke up this morning, I joked to myself that I can now add an isolation cell to the list of places I’ve celebrated it Then, like many people of a certain age (I’m 47 today, shockingly), I thought about my achievements over the past year and about plans for the next one.
My achievements are not great, and the prison psychologist summed them up best a few days ago. According to procedure, before you’re placed in isolation, you get examined by a healthcare worker (to make sure you’re physically capable) and a psychologist (to make sure you won’t hang yourself). So the psychologist said after our meeting: We’ve sent you to isolation 16 times, and you’re still making jokes, and your mood is much lighter than ours is on the commission. It’s true, though on the morning of my birthday I have to be honest with myself, so I asked myself, “Am I really in a good mood, or am I putting it on?”
My answer: it’s true. Well, there’s nothing to hide, it’s understandable that I’d like to wake up not in this kennel, but to breakfast with my family, kisses on the cheek from my children, unwrapping gifts and saying “wow, this is exactly what I was hoping for.” But life is constructed such that progress and a better future are achievable only if a certain number of people are prepared to pay for their right to hold beliefs. The more of those people there are, the less each will pay. The day will surely come when speaking the truth and standing up for justice will be something ordinary in Russia and completely free from danger.
Until that day comes, I see my situation not as a heavy burden or a yoke, but simply as the work I need to do. Every job has its unpleasant aspects, right? Here, right now, I’m doing the unpleasant part of my favorite job.
My plan for the last year was to not get feral, not get resentful, and to not lose my nonchalance — that’s where defeat begins. And if I have succeeded, it’s only thanks to your support.
As always on my birthday, I’d like to thank everyone I’ve met throughout my life. The good people for helping me and continuing to help. The bad because the experience of communicating with them taught me something. Thank you to my family for always being behind me!
But the biggest thank you and the heartiest greetings today go to all the political prisoners in Russia, Belarus, and other countries. The majority of them have it much worse than I do. I think about them constantly. Their resilience inspires me every day.