Navalny taken from prison to unknown place

Published December 16, 2023
Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny attends a court hearing in Moscow, Russia in this file photo. — Reuters
Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny attends a court hearing in Moscow, Russia in this file photo. — Reuters

MOSCOW: Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been removed from a prison near Moscow and taken to an undisclosed location, his spokeswoman said on Friday, citing a court representative.

Supporters of Navalny, who was jailed in 2021 after surviving a poisoning assassination attempt, have sounded the alarm since early this month, when the Kremlin critic was last seen.

Kira Yarmysh said she was told that Navalny, serving a 19-year sentence, was removed from the Vladimir region near Moscow on Dec 11, signalling a potential prison transfer.

“It is not known where exactly” he was taken, Yarmysh added.

“I want to remind you that lawyers have not seen Alexei since Dec 6. Why they were not allowed to meet him, if Alexei was still in IK-6, we do not know,” she said, referring to the penal colony where he was last seen.

The Kremlin this week criticised “interference” by the United States in the case after Washington said it was “deeply concerned” by Navalny’s team saying they have had no access to him for almost a week.

France added its voice to the growing chorus of international concern over the lack of news about Navalny.

“France considers Russia responsible for the health of its detainees, in particular political prisoners,” said French foreign ministry spokesman Christophe Lemoine.

“The lack of news for the past several days is very worrying,” he added.

Navalny is serving the long jail term on extremism charges, and a court this summer ruled that he be moved to a more secure, harsh prison.

Published in Dawn, December 16th, 2023

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