Support The Moscow Times!

Navalny Found in Arctic Prison After 3-Week Disappearance

Natalia Kolesnikova / AFP

Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has been located in a prison colony in northern Russia after going missing for nearly three weeks, his spokeswoman said Monday.

The disappearance of Russia's most prominent opposition figure, who mobilized huge protests before being jailed in 2021, had spurred concerns from allies, rights groups and Western governments.

“We have found Alexei Navalny. He is now in IK-3 in the settlement of Kharp in the Yamal-Nenets autonomous district,” Kira Yarmysh wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

She said Navalny’s lawyer visited him earlier in the day, adding that the anti-corruption crusader is “doing well.”

The district of Kharp, home to about 5,000 people, is located above the Arctic Circle.

Exiled Navalny aide Ivan Zhdanov called IK-3 “one of the most northern and remote” prison colonies in Russia.

“Conditions there are harsh, with a special regime in the permafrost zone. It’s very difficult to reach and there are no systems to deliver letters or [make calls],” Zhdanov wrote.

“The situation with Alexei is a vivid example of how the system treats political prisoners, trying to isolate and suppress them,” he said, linking Navalny’s isolation to Russia’s 2024 presidential elections in which President Vladimir Putin is expected to win a fifth term.

					The location of the IK-3 prison colony in Kharp, Yamal-Nenets autonomous district					 					Google Maps
The location of the IK-3 prison colony in Kharp, Yamal-Nenets autonomous district Google Maps

IK-3 is famous for at one point in the 2000s holding Platon Lebedev, a one-time business partner of exiled former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky who was convicted of tax evasion, money laundering and fraud in what he and his supporters maintained was a politically motivated case.

Navalny’s location and condition had been unknown since his lawyers last met with him on Dec. 5, sparking worries that the 47-year-old’s life may be in danger.

He was expected to be transferred to a new prison colony as part of his new 19-year jail term for “extremism.”

He was previously held at the IK-2 prison colony in central Russia’s Vladimir region, where he was serving a sentence on fraud charges.

His allies linked the timing of his disappearance to Putin’s Dec. 8 announcement to seek re-election in the 2024 presidential race.

Navalny has urged Russians to “vote for any other candidate” besides Putin in the March 15-17 election.

Navalny was jailed in 2021 after returning to Moscow from Germany, where he recovered from a nearly fatal poisoning attack with the Soviet-designed nerve agent Novichok. He claimes the poisoning was orchestrated by Putin, an assertion the Kremlin denies.

His activist and political groups were banned as “extremist” organizations in summer 2021, forcing his closest associates into exile.

AFP contributed reporting.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more