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Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny found at penal colony in Siberia 2 weeks after alleged ‘disappearance’

"We have found Alexey," his spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, said in a statement on X. "He is now in IK-3 in the settlement of Kharp in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District."

 After two weeks of continued search, Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been found at a penal colony in Siberia, Russia, according to his team, reported CNN.

“We have found Alexey,” his spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, said in a statement on X. “He is now in IK-3 in the settlement of Kharp in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District.”

She further said that Navalny’s lawyer had visited him earlier on Monday and that the jailed activist was “doing well.”

According to Navalny’s lawyers, they lost contact with him on December 11. Until then, he was imprisoned in a penal colony about 150 miles east of Moscow, as reported by CNN.

Navalny had “never been hidden for so long,” his team said after he missed two scheduled court hearings last week.

Meanwhile, they also warned that he had been in poor health before his disappearance after being “deprived of food” and “kept in a punishment cell without ventilation.”

Moreover, his disappearance has been linked to President Vladimir Putin’s announcement to run again in the elections scheduled in 2024, which had further sparked concerns for his well-being and safety, reported CNN.

Director of Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation, Ivan Zhdanov, said that the IK-3 penal colony in Kharp where Navalny is now being held, known as “Polar Wolf,” is “one of the northernmost and most remote colonies.”

“The conditions there are harsh, with a special regime in the permafrost zone. It is very difficult to get there, and there are no letter delivery systems,” Zhdanov wrote on X.

He further said that Navalny’s lawyer had not been allowed into the penal colony “right away.”

“It seems that the colony was prepared for his arrival in advance. The head of the Federal Penitentiary Service, Arkady Gostev, was there in April, and perhaps it was then that they decided to transfer Alexey there,” he added.

Navalny had been sentenced to 19 years in prison in August after being found guilty of creating an extremist community, financing extremist activities and numerous other crimes.

He was already serving 11 and a half years in a maximum security facility on fraud and other charges that he denies, according to CNN.

However, his supporters claimed that his arrest and incarceration were a politically motivated attempt to stifle his criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

According to CNN, Navalny has been one of the most serious threats to Putin’s legitimacy during his rule.

He used his blog and social media to expose alleged corruption in the Kremlin as well as Russian business and organised anti-government street protests.

The dissident was taken from Russia to Germany in 2020 after he was poisoned with Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent. Navalny had to be airlifted from the Siberian city of Omsk and arrived comatose at a hospital in Berlin.

Navalny was immediately incarcerated upon his return to Russia in January 2021 on charges of violating the terms of his probation related to a fraud case brought against him in 2013, which he also dismissed as politically motivated, CNN reported.

He has also campaigned from prison against Russia’s war against Ukraine and has even attempted to mobilise public opposition to the war. 

(This news report is published from a syndicated feed. Except for the headline, the content has not been written or edited by OpIndia staff)

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