NARYSHKINO, Russia (AP) — The brother of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was released from prison on Friday after serving a 3½-year term on fraud charges.
Oleg Navalny, 35, walked out of jail in a Russian province south of Moscow to the embrace his wife Viktoria and his brother Alexei as supporters cheered and shouted “Hooray.”
Oleg Navalny was sentenced in December 2014 for defrauding a cosmetics company, a verdict that was widely seen as retribution for the political activities of his brother, who got a suspended sentence in the same trial.
Oleg Navalny, wearing what looked like a black prison suit with his name tag on it and dark sunglasses, appeared in good spirits, though he looked visibly thinner.
He has remained stoic in prison, writing essays about life in jail and drawing pictures and cartoons, despite constant pressure and repeatedly being put in punitive confinement, which his brother dismissed as unlawful.
“Of all the convicts in this colony, he has been found to be the biggest violator,” Alexei Navalny told reporters outside the prison gates. “And his violations were, for example, sitting on the bed or going somewhere while being dressed in the wrong uniform.”
Oleg Navalny described the conditions in solitary confinement.
“I was sitting on the floor during the day,” he said. “It’s a small cell with a wooden floor and stone walls. I was sitting, reading a book or drawing.”
Alexei Navalny said the family was in a hurry to reunite with Oleg.
“Obviously we want to get Oleg home as soon as possible to see our parents and others,” he said.