The most famous Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, was suddenly transferred from a prison where he was serving 11-1 / 2 years in prison to a maximum security colony away from Moscow.
Mr. Navalny earned the admiration of the scattered opposition in 2021 by voluntarily returning to Russia in 2021 from Germany, where he was being treated for an attempt to poison him in Siberia with a Soviet-era nerve agent, according to Western laboratory studies. Russia denies attempting to kill him.
His chief of staff, Leanid Volkau, said that when Mr Navalny’s lawyer arrived at correctional colony No. 2, a camp in Pokrov, 119 km east of Moscow, on Tuesday, he was told: “There is no such convict here.”
“We don’t know where Alyaksei is now and what colony he is being taken to,” Volkau told Telegram.
But later an observer at the regional prison, Sergei Yazhan, said by phone that Mr Navalny had been taken to the IC-6 penal colony in Melekhovo near Vladimir, about 250km east of Moscow.
Mr. Jazan is the chairman of the local public oversight commission, an organization tasked with protecting the rights of prisoners in every region of Russia and working closely with prison authorities.
Russia’s prison service could not be reached for comment.
Mr Navalny has called President Vladimir Putin’s Russia an anti-utopian state ruled by thieves and criminals, where wrongdoing is right and judges are corrupt members of the doomed elite.
Only last month, he accused Putin via video link in a Russian court, calling him a madman who started a “stupid war” that destroyed innocent people in both Ukraine and Russia.
Mr. Navalny was jailed for violating parole on his return from Germany.
Then, on March 24 this year, he was sentenced to another nine years in prison for fraud and contempt of court. He says all the accusations against him are fabricated and aimed at thwarting his political ambitions.
The judge ordered Mr. Navalny to be transferred to a high-security detention center, where his rights to meetings and correspondence would be restricted.
Mr. Navalny’s political network has been largely dismantled, banned as an “extremist” organization. Senior aides and organizers were either imprisoned or expelled.
Two weeks ago, Mr Navalny said he had been charged in a new criminal case with setting up an extremist organization and inciting hatred against the authorities, which carry a maximum sentence of another 15 years.