The Russian government critic Alexej Navalny, who has been in prison since 2021, has been transferred to another penal colony. She has “no further information” about where exactly he is being taken, wrote Navalny’s confidante Maria Pewtschich on Twitter on Tuesday. Accordingly, Navalny did not appear at a planned meeting with his lawyers.
The 46-year-old Navalny had previously been in the penal colony in Pokrov, a hundred kilometers from Moscow, which is considered one of the colonies with the harshest conditions in Russia. A lawyer for Navalny told the Russian news agency Tass on Tuesday that it was said in Pokrov that Navalny had been transferred to a “penal colony with strict conditions”.
The lawyer added that the transfer was related to the recent verdict against Navalny. A court increased the opposition leader’s prison sentence to nine years in May after convicting him of embezzling donations to his political organizations. His first conviction was based on fraud allegations. Navalny rejects all allegations and considers them to be politically motivated.
The Russian authorities did not provide any information about the new whereabouts. Navalny’s supporters assume that prison conditions there are tougher than in Pokrov.
“As long as we do not know where Alexei is, he will be on his own against a system that has already tried to kill him,” wrote his spokeswoman Kira Jarmysch on Telegram on Tuesday. “Our most important task now is to locate him.” According to Jarmysch, neither Navalny himself nor his lawyers or his family were informed about his transfer.
Navalny was arrested in January 2021 on his return from Germany at Moscow Airport. He had previously been treated in Berlin for poisoning he suffered in Russia with a neurotoxin from the Novichok group, for which he blames Russian President Vladimir Putin.