Alexei Navalny found in remote Siberian penal colony weeks after Russian prison disappearance News
Evgeny Feldman, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Alexei Navalny found in remote Siberian penal colony weeks after Russian prison disappearance

According to a statement Monday by a spokesperson for prominent Russian dissident, Alexei Navalny, he has been located in the Russian penal system in IK-3 in the settlement of Kharp in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District in northwestern Siberia. The opposition leader had been missing in the Russian prison system for nearly three weeks, ever since he failed to turn up to a video hearing in early December.

Navalny has been a prominent critic of the Kremlin and has been imprisoned in Russia since 2021 when he returned to the country after a poisoning attempt in Germany. He’s facing multiple sentences on a range of charges, all related to alleged “extremist activities.” At the beginning of December, he failed to appear in court via a video link and his lawyers and supporters could not locate him. The prison authorities said at the time that he was no longer on their list but refused to say where he had been moved to. Just over a week later, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Russia issued a statement, expressing her serious concerns for Navalny’s safety and calling for Russian authorities to “abide by their international human rights obligations.”

Director of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, Ivan Zhdanov, said in a tweet Monday that they had located Navalny in the “Polar Wolf” penal colony, “one of the northernmost and most remote colonies of all.” According to Zhdanov, Navalny’s team sent 618 requests to Russian authorities and searched every detention center over the past few weeks. The conditions at the colony where Navalny is currently imprisoned are described by Zhdanov as “harsh, with a special regime in the permafrost zone.” His lawyer was eventually permitted entry and allowed to see Navalny. Zhdanov alleged that authorities knew of the transfer perhaps as far back as April and that the “situation with Alexei is a vivid example of how the system deals with political prisoners, trying to isolate and suppress them.”