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Spokesperson: Navalny found, meets with lawyers

by The Kyiv Independent news desk December 25, 2023 4:38 PM 2 min read
Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny appears on a screen set up at a courtroom of the Moscow City Court via a video link on May 17, 2023. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images)
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Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny is "doing well" and has been located in a penal colony in Russia's far northern Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District, spokesperson Kira Yarmysh wrote on X on Dec. 25.

The news comes after Navalny's team and family lost contact with him for almost three weeks. The disappearance prompted concerns about the state of his health amid an intensifying crackdown on the opposition by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election.

Ivan Zhdanov, head of the Anti-Corruption Foundation established by Navalny, said on the same day that team looking for the opposition leader had sent in 618 requests and that lawyers had searched through "every detention center" before he was located in the IK-3 colony. Zhdanov and Yarmysh said Navalny has met with his lawyer.

The penal colony is located in a remote settlement north of the Arctic Circle, with "tough conditions" and limited access for letter delivery, according to Zhdanov. Navalny was previously held in the IK-6 Melekhovo high-security prison in Russia's Vladimir Oblast.

"Situation with Alexei is a clear example of how the system treats its political prisoners, attempting to isolate and suppress them," Zhdanov wrote.

During Navalny's disappearance, politicians in the U.S. and Europe called on Russian authorities to release the prisoner.

"We once more call for his immediate release and an end to the continued repression of independent voices in Russia," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Dec. 23.

"Russia’s political leadership is responsible for his safety & health in prison for which they will be held to account," said EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell.  

Navalny ‘no longer on list’ of prisoners at penal colony, whereabouts unknown
The authorities have refused to give Navalny’s lawyers access to the politician for six days, and his location is currently unknown. The Kremlin has been trying to prevent Navalny from communicating with the outside world and delivering his messages.
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