Alexey Navalny, the jailed Russian opposition leader, has been moved to a penal colony in the Arctic, allies said Monday after they lost touch with him for over two weeks, CNN reported.
”We have found Alexey. He is now in IK-3 in the settlement of Kharp in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District. His lawyer visited him today. Aleksei is doing well,” his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said in a statement on X.
We have found Alexey @navalny. He is now in IK-3 in the settlement of Kharp in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District. His lawyer visited him today. Alexey is doing well.
— Кира Ярмыш (@Kira_Yarmysh) December 25, 2023
He had previously been imprisoned in the Vladimir region of central Russia, about 230 kilometers (140 miles) east of Moscow, but his lawyers said they had not been able to reach him since December 6. Transfers within Russia’s prison system are shrouded in secrecy and inmates can disappear from contact for several weeks.
Ivan Zhdanov who manages Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation said the IK-3 penal colony in Kharp where Navalny is now being held, known as ”Polar Wolf,” is ”one of the northernmost and most remote colonies.”
”The conditions there are harsh, with a special regime in the permafrost zone. It is very difficult to get there, and there are no letter delivery systems,” Mr Zhdanov wrote on X.
Navalny, the most prominent foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is serving a 19-year sentence on charges of extremism. He mobilised huge anti-government protests before being jailed in 2021, after surviving an attempt to assassinate him by poisoning, as per an AFP report. He has since received three prison terms and spent months in isolation in Penal Colony No. 6 for alleged minor infractions. He has rejected all charges against him as politically motivated.
Some supporters believe that he was deliberately being hidden after Vladimir Putin announced his candidacy in Russia’s March presidential election.
The US and the European Union have called for Navalny’s release, condemning his convictions as politically motivated. The United States also voiced ”deep concern” regarding his whereabouts.
We are deeply concerned about the whereabouts of Aleksey Navalny, who has now been missing in Russia’s prison system for nearly three weeks. We once more call for his immediate release and an end to the continued repression of independent voices in Russia.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) December 23, 2023
Secretary Antony Blinken wrote on X, ”We are deeply concerned about the whereabouts of Aleksey Navalny, who has now been missing in Russia’s prison system for nearly three weeks. We once more call for his immediate release and an end to the continued repression of independent voices in Russia.”