“I heard you,” the chief investigator said. “I understand everything, there is no need to explain.”
Mr. Davydov was first detained in May 2016, hours before we were scheduled to meet in Perm. He was accused of extorting money from a City Hall official he called, threatening to post a record of their conversation online unless she paid. Mr. Davydov denied the charge, pointing to many irregularities in the case.
He says he was beaten in prison in Perm, and medical officials have confirmed that his right collarbone was broken during his time in prison. The prison warden refused him permission to use a walking stick that could have helped ease an exceptionally painful cyst in his left foot. He was regularly thrown into solitary confinement for trifling misdemeanors, things like failing to stand when a prison guard entered his cell.
Once, when he refused to leave his cell because walking hurt too much, the prison guards pulled him out, smashed his head against the concrete floor, searched him and pushed him back inside, he said. In excruciating pain, Mr. Davydov grabbed a piece of bread from his table and threw it at the guards, supposedly breaking one’s nose.
For that assault, Mr. Davydov’s sentence was extended by four years. When the judge read the verdict, Mr. Davydov protested, saying the word “deer,” an epithet in Russia meaning a very stupid person. That drew a contempt citation and five more years in prison. He has appealed the decisions to the European Court of Human Rights.
“The goal is to isolate him,” said Larisa V. Alfyorova, Mr. Davydov’s lawyer, who will represent him in the appeal. “They won’t release him, they will make sure he stays in prison.”
After he was detained, Mr. Davydov’s business collapsed, and his wife, Yekaterina Davydova, told their 15-year-old daughter that he had left to develop a new business far away.
“As we know, developing a new business takes a long time,” Mrs. Davydova said.