Moscow, Aug 12 (IANS) Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has set up a trade union within the penal colony where he is being held in what many see as punishment for his sustained opposition to the Russian government.
'Hi, this is Navalny, leader and founder of the labour union of citizens employed in the penitentiary system 'Promzona',' his team tweeted on Thursday.
Navalny explained his step was due to the exploitation of around 600,000 people in Russia's prisons, though he added that he would also be happy to represent the interests of the guards, too, if needed, reports dpa news agency.
'I mean, why not? I'm a colony worker. A sewer. And other convicts are workers, too. And the guards are also employees of the colony. In terms of labour rights we are no different. We can form a union to protect our rights,' he said.
Initially, the 45-year-old opposition figure noted, the camp administration viewed his formal application as a joke before declaring it 'illegal'.
'Normally, you could easily get killed in prison for something like that,' he said in one of a series of tweets.
Navalny reflected on the fact that in the past he has encouraged others to form trade unions, so he ought to do so too, he said, 'even if it is in the most dangerous place to do it, where strikes, disobedience and gatherings are explicitly forbidden'.
Those who go on strike risk torture, said Navalny, who narrowly survived an assassination attempt then was jailed months later despite an international outcry.
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