Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny (Butyn, in the Moscow region, 47 years old) “is doing well” and is in a prison located in a remote Arctic region in northern Russia, reported this Monday on the social network Telegram his spokesperson. , Kira Yarmysh, after his collaborators lost contact with him for almost three weeks, during which his whereabouts were unknown. The prison Navalny was transferred to is the IK-3 penal colony in Jarp in the Yamal-Nenets region, about 1,900 km northeast of Moscow, Yarmysh said. This spokesperson also reported that the dissident’s lawyer managed to meet him on Monday.
The Kremlin had warned the West on December 12 that Navalny’s disappearance was a strictly internal matter and had ignored requests to clarify his whereabouts. “We have neither the intention nor the ability to monitor the fate of detainees and the procedures of (penitentiary) institutions,” the Russian president’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that day after concerns that The EU and the United States have expressed their lack of news from the adversary. “We are talking about a prisoner who was convicted according to — Russian — law and is serving his sentence. “We consider any interference here, including that of the United States, unacceptable and inadmissible,” Peskov then underlined.
Navalny’s transfer to one of the so-called “special regime” colonies, the harshest level of Russia’s prison system, was planned, but opposition lawyers raised the alarm over his disappearance after losing contact with him after a final meeting with his legal team. on December 6.
“Many thanks to our supporters, activists, journalists and media who care about Alexei’s fate and who do not tire of writing about the situation,” Navalny’s lawyer Ivan Zhdanov said.
Zhdanov assured that the dissident’s supporters had sent 618 requests for information to the Kremlin on his fate. Until his transfer, Navalny was imprisoned in Melejovo, a penal colony located 235 km east of Moscow. The prison where the dissident was transferred is now one of the “most isolated” in Russia, with extremely “harsh” conditions, the lawyer stressed. The transfer of the politician who is perhaps the best-known dissident of Vladimir Putin’s regime in the world demonstrates how “the system treats political prisoners, trying to isolate and repress them,” Zhdanov argued.
On August 4, the dissident was sentenced to an additional 19 years in prison by a court which accused him of “supporting extremism”. Navalny was found guilty of six charges, including inciting and financing extremist activities, as well as creating an organization with extremist leanings, in reference to his political background. The charges were related to his role in the now-defunct political movement he led in Russia. Authorities claim that this movement sought to foment a revolution by attempting to destabilize the socio-political situation in Russia.
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The judgment, delivered behind closed doors, extended the nine-year prison sentence he was already serving for alleged fraud, accused of having enriched himself thanks to donations made to his anti-corruption platform. This sentence was already in addition to another sentence of 2.5 years handed down in 2021 for embezzlement in what is known as Kirovles casewhich dates back to 2013. The opponent’s defense, as well as his supporters, claim that this affair was fabricated to keep Navalni away from the political sphere for an even longer period.
Navalny, who mobilized tens of thousands of people against Putin’s regime in the 2010s, was arrested in January 2021 after returning to Moscow from Germany, where he had been treated for poisoning with a Russian nerve agent. Soviet era, as several Western experts have determined. .
The Kremlin, which at one point accused him of working for the CIA to undermine Russia, has denied his involvement in the poisoning and that it is pursuing Navalny. But he portrayed him as a disruptive agent. He also devalues his role as an opponent and maintains that his case is an exclusively judicial matter. For Navalni’s supporters, the opponent is a Russian version of Nelson Mandela, who will one day come out of prison to govern the country.