Navalny’s Lawyers Regain Contact after Prison Transfer

( – Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny delivered on December 26 his first words in public after disappearing for almost three weeks, prompting speculations about his health, with activists asking for proof of life. Navalny, who has been one of the main critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was serving a 19-year sentence at one of the main prisons in Russia, which is located 225 kilometers east of the capital city Moscow.

On December 25, a Navalny spokesman said that his team managed to track him down at a new prison located above the Arctic Circle. Different reports noted that the move could represent a threatening message that Putin is trying to send, as the prison is famous for being one of the toughest in Russia.

The next day, Navalny wrote on his Twitter account that he was “relieved” to have been relocated to the IK-3 prison, which is located in Russia’s Yamalo-Nenets region. He also joked with users by describing himself as “Santa Claus,” and noted that he was currently wearing an ushanka hat and a sheepskin coat. Navalny added that he hopes getting the traditional Russian valenki winter footwear soon, and mentioned that he grew his beard during the 20 days of his transportation to the new prison.

In another tweet, the Russian opposition leader said it was beautiful to notice so many shepherd dogs in the Yamalo-Nenets region, and said he expected to be found by mid-January, 2024. He also said that the 20 days of travel have been “extremely exhausting.”

In a Twitter post translated by The Wall Street Journal, Navalny’s chief of staff Leonid Volkov explained that the only good news about the political leader’s tweets was that now people know he hasn’t died as many other political prisoners. He explained that Navalny’s current situation is “inhumane” as Putin is making him suffer the highest level of isolation, as the prison’s location is “extremely hard to reach.” Volkov pointed out that prisoners at the IK-3 prison are some of the worst in Russia.

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