Russia: Banished in the polar region: Kremlin opponent Navalny back

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

Russia: Banished in the polar region: Kremlin opponent Navalny back

Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny, who has been missing 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 the X news service (formerly Twitter). A lawyer saw him.

"I'm doing well," Jarmysch said, according to a statement published in English. 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; In addition, 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.

There was no further comment from the prison service or other Russian authorities on the reports about the detainee's whereabouts. 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 not least to scathingly criticize Putin's authoritarian system. Most recently, Navalny was no longer involved in the negotiations when the election campaign began.

Whereabouts were unknown since the beginning of December

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.

"Although today is also Christmas, the fact that we found Alexei on this day is not a Christmas miracle, but the huge and meticulous work of the lawyers at the Anti-Corruption Fund," said Yulia Navalnaya, the opposition activist's wife, on Instagram with. She also published an older selfie of herself with her husband from happier days.

Today, Russia's highest court claimed that Navalny's whereabouts were unknown, said Zhdanov, who heads the anti-corruption fund in exile. There was a complete information blockade. Navalny's lawyers sent out more than 600 inquiries and "searched" all pre-trial detention centers to find him. "The lawyer was with him today. He saw Alexei. But they didn't let the lawyer see him right away," said Zhdanov. The head of the Russian penal system, Arkady Gostev, was there in April to prepare the camp for Navalny's arrival, he said.

Campaign “Russia without Putin”

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; his 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. The USA, the EU and the federal government have repeatedly expressed concern in recent weeks and called on the Russian leadership to provide information about Navalny's whereabouts. Russia rejected this as interference in its internal affairs. The Kremlin also said it could not concern itself with the fate of prisoners in Russia.

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