Russia: Opposition Politician Navalny’s Location in Prison Remains Unknown

Tue Dec 12 2023
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MOSCOW: Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny’s location inside the prison system remains unknown, and once again, he was absent from a court hearing via video link, Kira Yarmysh, his spokesperson, said on Tuesday.

Navalny’s allies said on Monday that he had been removed from the penal colony where he had been incarcerated since the middle of the previous year and that his current location was unknown.

Anticipating his move to a “special regime” colony, the most severe classification in Russia’s prison hierarchy, they had prepared for this shift following his August sentencing to an additional 19 years in prison, adding to the 11-1/2 years he was already serving.

The process of transporting prisoners by rail across Russia’s extensive territory can span weeks, leaving lawyers and family members without information on their whereabouts and well-being until they reach their final destination. It remains unclear whether Navalny is currently en route to a new prison.

Yarmysh, Navalny’s spokesperson, revealed on Monday that the staff at the IK-6 facility in Melekhovo, located 235 km (145 miles) east of Moscow, informed the waiting lawyer that Navalny was no longer among the inmates.

On Tuesday, Yarmysh posted on X (formerly Twitter), stating, “Today Alexei was again not brought to court to appear by video link, but now nobody is talking nonsense about an ‘electricity accident.’ An employee of penal colony-6 stated that Alexei had ‘left their colony, but that he allegedly did not know where he had been transferred to,” she wrote.

Yarmysh implied that the initial explanation given for six days, attributing Navalny’s absence to an electricity problem, might have been a tactic by the authorities to buy time. As of now, there has been no immediate comment from Russia’s prison service.

Navalny’s disappearance coincides with the commencement of the campaign period for a presidential election in March, where Vladimir Putin is expected to secure another six-year term.

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