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Russian Court Postpones Navalny's Court Hearings Until ‘Whereabouts Established’

Alexei Navalny is seen on a screen as he appears in a video link from the colony in Vladimir region September 2023. Maxim Shipenkov / EPA / TASS

A Russian court has postponed jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny's hearings until “his whereabouts are established,” his team said Monday. 

The announcement comes nearly two weeks after he first went missing in Russia's prison system, sparking alarm from his aides and supporters that his life may be in danger.

Navalny's team said last week that the 47-year-old was moved from the prison where he was being held in central Russia to an unknown location.

“Over the weekend, the FBK [Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation] lawyers sent inquiries to more than 200 pre-trial detention centers across the country. We are waiting for answers,” his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

Navalny had seven court hearings planned on Monday, Yarmysh said, but a court in the Vladimir region, where the opposition activist was serving a prison sentence on fraud charges, postponed these hearings.

“The first two [court hearings] have already taken place — they didn’t even connect him [Navalny] via video link,” Yarmysh said.

Navalny was expected to be moved from the Vladimir region's IK-6 prison to a stricter "special-regime" colony after a court in August sentenced him to 19 years in a “special-regime” colony on charges of creating an organization that undermined public safety through “extremist activities.”

His allies warned that his “life is at great risk” after a “serious health-related incident” and linked the timing of his transfer with President Vladimir Putin's announcement to seek re-election in the 2024 presidential race. 

The jailed activist had urged Russians to “vote for any other candidate” besides Putin the day before the president's widely anticipated announcement.

Also on Monday, a United Nations rights expert raised concerns regarding the “enforced disappearance" of Navalny.

"I am greatly concerned that the Russian authorities will not disclose Mr. Navalny's whereabouts and well-being for such a prolonged period of time which amounts to enforced disappearance," said Mariana Katzarova, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Russia.

“Mr. Navalny and all those arbitrarily detained should be released immediately and provided remedies and reparations for all the harm suffered, in line with international human rights obligations,” Katzarova added.

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