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Navalny located in a penal colony in the Arctic

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Alexeï Navalny had no contact with his lawyers since December 6. (Archive photo)

Agence France-Presse

Imprisoned Russian opponent Alexeï Navalny, whose relatives had not heard from for almost three weeks, reappeared on Monday in a penal colony in Kharp, in the Russian Arctic, an isolated region where he was transferred three months before the presidential election.

Charismatic anti-corruption activist and number one enemy of Vladimir Putin, Alexei Navalny, 47, is serving a 19-year prison sentence for extremism. He was arrested in January 2021 upon his return from Russia from convalescence in Germany for a poisoning he blamed on the Kremlin.

Mr. Navalny disappeared in early December from the penal colony in the Vladimir region, 250 kilometers east of Moscow, where he had been held until then, which meant his likely transfer to another establishment.

We found Navalny. He is in penal colony number 3 in the town of Kharp, said his spokesperson Kira Iarmych on X (ex-Twitter), indicating that the opponent is well and that his lawyer visited him on Monday. /p>

Kharp, a small town of around 5,000 inhabitants, is located in Yamalo-Nenetsia, a remote region in northern Russia. It lies beyond the Arctic Circle and several penal colonies are located there.

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According to one of his close associates, Ivan Zhdanov, it is one of the northernmost and most remote settlements in Russia. The conditions there are difficult, he explained on ;there is no letter distribution system or [telephone access], he added.

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According to the verdict for extremism pronounced against Mr. Navalny, the opponent must serve his sentence in a regime colony special, the category of establishments where the conditions of detention are the harshest and which are usually reserved for lifers and the most dangerous prisoners.

A special regime colony is located in Kharp, colony number 18 Polar Owl, although Mr. Navalny is currently detained in another.

From From the beginning, it became clear that the authorities wanted to isolate Alexei, in particular before the presidential election scheduled for March 2024, Ivan Zhdanov further reacted.

Transfers from one penal colony to another in Russia often take several weeks of train travel with stages, with detainees' relatives remaining without news during this period.

This lack of news concerning the opponent had aroused concern in several Western capitals and the UN.

The White House expressed particular concern and once again demanded the release of the opponent.

Mr. Navalny's movement has been methodically eradicated in recent years by the authorities, pushing his collaborators and allies into exile or prison.

Its Anti-Corruption Fund was declared extremist in 2021 and authorities on Thursday launched a wanted notice against its director, Maria Pevtchikh, who fled abroad.

At the beginning of December, Russian authorities initiated new charges of vandalism against the charismatic anti-corruption activist, which could add three more years of detention to his sentence.

Faced with a crushed opposition and the repression of any critical voice in the country, Vladimir Putin is aiming for a new six-year mandate in the Kremlin during the presidential election next March, a mandate which will wear it until 2030, the year he turns 78.

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