Missing for weeks: Kremlin critic Navalny moved to penal colony in polar region

Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny, who has been wanted for more than two weeks, has resurfaced.

Missing for weeks: Kremlin critic Navalny moved to penal colony in polar region

Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny, who has been wanted for more than two weeks, has resurfaced. He was transferred to the IK-3 penal camp in Charp in northern Russia in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmysch said on Monday on the X news service (formerly Twitter). “He’s OK,” Jarmysch said. There had been no trace of Navalny for 20 days. His team and lawyers had launched a search operation. The new prison camp is more than 2,000 kilometers from Moscow.

“We found Alexei!” said his colleague Ivan Zhdanov. He is in the “Polar Wolf” penal camp, in one of the northernmost and most remote colonies of all. “The conditions there are brutal,” Zhdanov said. There is also permanent frost there. It was very difficult to get there; no letters would be delivered to the camp. It was clear from the start that Moscow's power apparatus wanted to isolate Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin's opponent before the presidential election on March 17th. “His whereabouts were kept secret,” criticized Zhdanov.

Navalny, who was sentenced to 19 years in prison for alleged extremism, among other things, repeatedly files lawsuits against the prison system for violating his rights. He uses the court appearances to criticize Putin's authoritarian system. Recently he was no longer involved in the negotiations.

The whereabouts of the Russian president's fiercest opponent had been unknown since the beginning of December. There was also great concern for the 47-year-old because he is in poor health. During court proceedings, prison employees only stated that Navalny was no longer in the IK-6 penal camp, around 260 kilometers east of Moscow in the Vladimir region.

The Kremlin opponents around Navalny also started the “Russia without Putin” campaign at the beginning of December, with which they called on voters before the presidential election to express their protest by voting for other candidates. Putin is taking part in the vote for the fifth time, and possible competitors are considered to have no chance.

Navalny, who also survived an assassination attempt with the nerve agent Novichok in 2020, has been in prison for almost three years. He was internationally recognized as a political prisoner.

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