“Nalwalni should be released immediately. He should never have been locked up,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, stressing that US officials wanted to know more about the fate of Putin’s rival.
Navalny’s lawyers visited two penal colonies in the Vladimir region (east of Moscow, ed.) on Friday and Monday, where the politician may be. His spokeswoman Kira Yarmish said they were told “he wasn’t there.”
Earlier, Navalny’s team noted that it has been a week since they asked the opposition leader. Rumors are currently doing the rounds on social media. Navalny is said to have suddenly fallen ill for unexplained reasons, while others claim he was killed or already dead.
Allow criticism to flow
Alexei Navalny to be formally transferred to penal colony with ‘special regime’ based on his new sentence: More Nineteen years in prison for ‘extremism’. That sentence was pronounced in August and was in addition to the eleven years he had already spent in the penal colony.
A theory is also circulating that Putin is sidelining Navalny so that Western criticism of his policies will increase. If the leader of the opposition shows up somewhere soon, Putin will prove that the Western media is lying and that he is a true democrat.
So what actually happens remains a mystery. Russian officials remain silent. Transferring inmates from one penal colony to another takes weeks due to long train journeys with intermediate stops, during which family members do not interact with the inmates.
The ‘special regime’ penal colonies with the harshest detention conditions in the Russian penal system are often located in very remote areas. A US State Department spokesperson told reporters that the US has told the Russian government that the US is responsible for whatever happens to the Russian opposition politician.
Bad prison camp
47-year-old Alexei Navalny was arrested in January 2021 and has been alternating with more or less severe detention conditions for nearly three years. Until recently he was in the infamous IK-6 prison camp in Melichovo, 250 kilometers east of Moscow.
He is also kept in the isolation room there. The opposition leader’s lawyers have in recent days posted not only the entrance gates of the penal colony IK-6, but also another prison (IK-7).
Yarmish, Navalny’s spokesman, says the situation is critical after Navalny fell ill in his room last week. ‘He fainted and had to lie on the floor. The staff there immediately came and gave him an IV. We don’t know exactly what’s going on. He does not get food, is in a room with no ventilation and does not have time to go for a walk. That’s why we think about hunger.
Alexey’s @navalny Lawyers stood all day in front of his current colony, IK-6, and IK-7, a colony of the Special Regime in the Vladimir region. Everywhere they were told to “wait” and eventually they were denied entry.
It’s especially troubling that we can’t find Alexie…
— Kira Yarmysh (@Kira_Yarmysh) December 8, 2023
Since that incident, the political adversary of President Vladimir Putin has still been in contact with his lawyers and, according to Yarmish, is doing reasonably well. But in recent days, Navalny’s confidants have been in the dark about where he is and how he is doing.
Ivan Zhdanov, a key member of Navalny’s anti-corruption fund FBK, writes in X that “strange things” are happening around the IK-6 prison camp. ‘Electricity is interrupted, lawyers cannot be allowed inside. In addition, scheduled court cases are postponed. This raises many questions that need to be answered. Navalny is in the hands of the enemy, he is in danger,” Zhdanov said.
Concerns about Putin’s biggest critic come as Putin has announced his intention to run for president in 2024. The government announced on Friday that the elections will be held from March 15 to 17. A 2020 constitutional amendment would allow the 71-year-old Putin to remain president until 2036.
Resistance was suppressed
Putin is the clear winner. Almost all opposition is suppressed in Russia. His biggest challenger is Navalny, but he is serving years in prison.
The Russian government has been labeling NGOs, news media and opposition figures as dangerous to the state.
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