Alexei Navalny reportedly moved to high-security prison in Russia
15 Jun 2022 (The Guardian)
Opposition leader’s transfer to maximum security penal colony known for abuse follows secrecy over his whereabouts.
The imprisoned Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny has been transferred to maximum-security prison, according to the chairman of a prison monitoring commission.
On Tuesday, Navalny was moved to the IK-6 prison in the village of Melekhovo in the Vladimir region, Russian news agencies reported, citing Sergei Yazhan, chairman of the regional Public Monitoring Commission.
IK-6 reportedly has a notorious reputation with widespread claims of torture and abuse.
Prison transfers in Russia sometimes take days and are shrouded in secrecy. The lack of information about the whereabouts of Navalny, the most determined political foe of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, had worried his allies.
Navalny’s closest ally, Leonid Volkov, said on Telegram that the politician’s lawyer went to visit him in prison earlier on Tuesday and was told that “there is no such convict here”.
Navalny was arrested in January 2021 upon returning from Germany – where he had been recuperating from nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin – and handed a two and a half year sentence for a parole violation.
In March 2022 Navalny was sentenced to nine years in prison for fraud and contempt of court, charges he rejected as politically motivated and an attempt by the authorities to keep him behind bars for as long as possible.
The judge ordered him to serve the new sentence in a maximum-security prison. He was supposed to be transferred to one after he lost his appeal.
The new conviction followed a year-long Kremlin crackdown on Navalny’s supporters, other opposition activists and independent journalists in which authorities appear eager to stifle all dissent.
Navalny’s close associates have faced criminal charges and many have left the country, while his group’s political infrastructure – an anti-corruption foundation and a nationwide network of regional offices – has been destroyed after being labelled an extremist organisation.
Until his transfer on Tuesday, Navalny had been at the IK-2 penal colony in the Vladimir region, about 60 miles east of the Russian capital. The facility in the town of Pokrov stands out among Russian penitentiaries for its especially strict inmate routines, which include standing at attention for hours.
Russia’s secrecy about prisoner transfers has come under criticism from human rights advocates.
Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.