Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has said he does not plan to commit suicide and thanked his supporters in his first statement since being jailed in one of Moscow’s most notorious prisons upon his return to Russia.
Navalny was sentenced to a month in jail this week after returning from Germany, where he had been recovering from what Western scientists determined to be poisoning with the Novichok nerve agent. He is being held in Matrosskaya Tishina, the site where lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died in 2009 after investigating large-scale fraud involving Russian tax officials.
“Just in case: I don’t plan to either hang myself on the window or cut my veins or throat open with a sharpened spoon,” Navalny wrote on his Instagram on Friday. “I use the staircase very carefully [and] they take my pressure every day so a sudden heart attack is ruled out […] I’m in a stable psychological and emotional state.”
The anti-corruption campaigner also thanked his supporters, who plan to take to the streets across the country Saturday to call for his release despite threats from the authorities.
“I know for a fact that there are many good people outside my prison and that help will come,” he wrote.
Navalny pointed to the young Russians who launched viral TikTok trends in which they showed themselves preparing for Saturday’s protests and replacing President Vladimir Putin’s portraits in their classrooms with Navalny’s photo. The hashtags #freeNavalny and #23January had gained more than 200 million views on the popular video-sharing app by 11 a.m. on Friday, reports said.
“Separate respect for the schoolchildren, who, according to my lawyer's words, arranged ‘lawlessness on Tik Tok.’ I don't know what that means, but it sounds cool,” Navalny wrote.
Navalny accuses Putin of orchestrating his poisoning and has said the latest attempts to jail him are politically motivated, while European leaders have called for the opposition leader's release.