A ferocious-looking dog on a short leash barked its warning as the guards checked our passports before ordering us to leave the notorious site where Russia's main opposition leader, Alexey Navalny, has been sent for the next two-and-a-half years.
Life inside is hidden from view, behind high metal fences and barbed wire surrounding this dilapidated-looking facility, in the Vladimir region of Russia, two hours' drive from the capital, Moscow.
But Navalny was able to offer his initial impressions, on a post on his official Instagram account. "I had no idea that it was possible to arrange a real concentration camp 100km from Moscow," Navalny said, adding his head had been shaven.
"Video cameras are everywhere, everyone is watched and at the slightest violation they make a report. I think someone upstairs read Orwell's '1984,'" Navalny continued, in a reference to the classic dystopian novel.
Life inside the prison, in the town of Pokrov, could yet become more banal, stressful and possibly dangerous according to one former inmate.
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