Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic has been transferred to a “completely lawless” penal colony outside Moscow, it was revealed Monday.
Alexei Navalny, 44, is serving a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for parole violations that he claims are politically motivated and falsified.
He was transferred to penal colony IK-2 in Pokrov, 60 miles East of Moscow, according to state news reports.
The whereabouts of the opposition leader had been unknown since Thursday, when supporters learned he was transferred from a Moscow jail to an undisclosed location. Allies took to social media to call on authorities to provide official information about his location.
Conditions at the metallic gray facility are particularly severe, activists said.
“In short, it’s a bad colony,” Ruslan Vakhapov of prisoners’ rights group Jailed Russia told Reuters.
Prisoners are known to cooperate with colony workers to help them control and abuse other inmates for minor violations, Vakhapov said.
“If there is a need to prevent Navalny from communicating with others, nobody would talk to him,” the activist said.
“(If anything happens), he wouldn’t be able to ask for help until his lawyer arrives,” he added.
“It’s completely lawless there,” Pyotr Kuryanov, a lawyer at the Defense of Prisoners’ Rights Foundation NGO, told The Moscow Times. “They will break you. Bad things have been going on there for a long time.”
“This is, by any measure, an extremely strict prison. They try to control your every step, your every thought,” former inmate Konstantin Kotov told the Russian newspaper.
Navalny will be quarantined as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus before joining other prisoners in the colony, the Moscow Public Monitoring Commission that defends the rights of prisoners said, according to the RIA news agency.
The Kremlin critic was arrested after returning from Germany in January, where he spent five months recovering from two assassination attempts that he blamed on the state.
Putin denied using a Soviet-era nerve agent to poison Navalny on both occasions, saying Navalny is part of a US-backed dirty tricks plot to discredit him.
He is serving out the remainder of a 2014 suspended sentence for embezzlement that the European Court of Human Rights ruled was unlawful, arbitrary and politically motivated.
With Post wires