Lawyer says Russian critic Alexei Navalny missing after prison transfer

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Russian opposition leader and Vladimir Putin critic Alexei Navalny, pictured 2012, is missing and his whereabouts are unknown following a prison transfer, his lawyer and spokesperson said Tuesday. File Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

June 14 (UPI) — Alexei Navalny is missing and his whereabouts are unknown following a prison transfer, a spokesperson for the Russian opposition leader said Tuesday.

Navalny had been in custody, but his lawyers were told he was no longer at the prison when they attempted to meet with him Tuesday, his spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said on Twitter.

“Alexei Navalny @navalny was transported away from the penal colony No. 2. His lawyer, who came to see him, was kept at the checkpoint until 14.00, and was then told: ‘There is no such convict here.’ We do not know where Alexei is now and what colony they are taking him to,” Yarmysh Tweeted.

“Of course, neither Alexei’s attorneys nor his relatives were informed about his transfer in advance. There were rumors that he was going to be transferred to the high-security penal colony IK-6 ‘Melekhovo,’ but it is impossible to know when (and if) he will actually arrive there.”

The Kremlin critic is serving a 12-year prison sentence, after having nine additional years tacked on in March to an existing sentence.

His lawyers were also arrested at the same time, while Yarmysh said the sentence would make it “practically impossible” to keep in contact with Navalny.

“The problem with his transfer to another colony is not only that the high-security colony is much scarier. As long as we don’t know where Alexei is, he remains one-on-one with the system that has already tried to kill him, so our main task now is to locate him as soon as possible,” she wrote on Twitter Tuesday.

Navalny, who has been previously arrested by Russian authorities, survived being poisoned in August of 2020, an act that has been widely blamed on the Kremlin.

His anti-corruption organizations were also labeled “extremists” last year, effectively shutting them down. And then in late January, Navalny was added to Russia’s terrorists and extremists list.

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