Alexei Navalny is in a penal colony in the Arctic

Imprisoned Russian opponent Alexei Navalny, whose relatives have not heard from him for almost three weeks, is in a penal colony in Kharp, in the Russian Arctic, his spokesperson reported Monday, December 25

Alexei Navalny is in a penal colony in the Arctic

Imprisoned Russian opponent Alexei Navalny, whose relatives have not heard from him for almost three weeks, is in a penal colony in Kharp, in the Russian Arctic, his spokesperson reported Monday, December 25.

“We found Navalny. He is in penal colony number 3 in the locality of Kharp,” said Kira Iarmych on X, specifying that the opponent “is doing well” and that his lawyer visited him on Monday.

Kharp, a small town of around 5,000 inhabitants, is located in Yamalo-Nenetsia, a remote region in northern Russia. It lies beyond the Arctic Circle and several penal colonies are located there.

Alexeï Navalny, anti-corruption activist and bête noire of Vladimir Putin, is serving a nineteen-year prison sentence for “extremism”. His relatives and collaborators had not heard from him since the beginning of December, which meant his probable transfer from the colony in the Vladimir region, 250 kilometers from Moscow, where he had until now been detained.

“Special regime” colony

According to the verdict for “extremism” pronounced against Mr. Navalny, the opponent must serve his sentence in a “special regime” colony, the category of establishments where the conditions of detention are the harshest and which are usually reserved lifers and the most dangerous prisoners.

A “special regime” colony happens to be located in Kharp, colony number 18 “Polar Owl,” although Mr. Navalny is currently detained in another.

“From the start, it became clear that the authorities wanted to isolate Alexei, in particular before the presidential election” scheduled for March 2024, reacted on X one of his close collaborators, Ivan Zhdanov.

Transfers from one penal colony to another in Russia often take several weeks of traveling by train with stops, with detainees' relatives not being heard from during this period. This lack of news concerning the opponent had aroused concern in several Western capitals and the UN.