UN human rights expert concerned over disappearance of Russia opposition figure Alexei Navalny News
UN human rights expert concerned over disappearance of Russia opposition figure Alexei Navalny

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Russia issued a statement Monday, expressing grave concerns over the disappearance of Russian dissident and opposition figure, Alexei Navalny, who has been missing within the Russian penal system for nearly two weeks.

Navalny, a prominent critic of the Kremlin, has been imprisoned in Russia since 2021 on a range of charges relating to “extremist activities.” Last week, his lawyers and supporters issued statements saying that they had been unable to locate him after he missed video court appearances. The prison where he had been held then told supporters that he was no longer on their registry and refused to say where he had been transferred. Supporters said it was no coincidence that Navalny had disappeared just days after President Vladimir Putin announced he would be running for re-election.

There was due to be a court hearing addressing violations of Navalny’s human rights in detention last Friday but his lawyers were informed that he was no longer being held in the Vladimir region. His whereabouts are still unknown. UN Special Rapporteur Mariana Katzarova raised concerns with the Russian authorities on Friday and has labelled Navalny’s continued absence as amounting to an “enforced disappearance.” Katzarova said:

I call on Russian authorities to abide by their international human rights obligations. The term “extremism” has no basis in international law, and when it triggers criminal liability it constitutes a violation of human rights, which must be condemned. Mr. Navalny and all those arbitrarily detained should be released immediately and provided remedies and reparations for all the harm suffered, in line with international human rights obligations.

Further to the Special Rapporteur’s call and in response to Navalny’s supporters’ request for urgent interim measures, the UN Human Rights Committee issued a communication to Russian representatives to provide information about Navalny’s “status, whereabouts and the state of health…and to urgently give him access to his lawyers.”