Navalny ‘fine’ after arrival in Arctic penal colony – DW – 12/26/2023

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Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said on Tuesday that he was “fine” despite a “pretty exhausting” transfer to a penal colony in Russia’s far north that took 20 days.

“Don’t worry about me. I’m fine. I’m totally relieved that I’ve finally made it,” he wrote on the messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter, adding: “I’m still in a good mood, as befits a Santa Claus” — a reference to his appearance, with winter clothing and beard grown during the transfer.

Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said on Monday that he had been found in the “Polar Wolf” colony, officially known as the IK-3 penal colony, in Kharp in the Yamal-Nenets region, about 1,900 km (1,200 miles) northeast of Moscow.

His supporters had lost contact with him for more than two weeks, giving rise to much speculation as to his health and well-being.

What else did Navalny say?

“They brought me here on Saturday night. And I was transported with such precaution and on such a strange route (Vladimir — Moscow — Chelyabinsk — Ekaterinburg — Kirov — Vorkuta — Kharp) that I didn’t expect anyone to find me here before mid-January,” Navalny wrote.

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“That’s why I was very surprised when the cell door was opened yesterday with the words: ‘A lawyer is here to see you.’ He told me that you had lost me, and some of you were even worried. Thanks very much for your support!” he added, also ironically speaking of the “huge fluffy, and very beautiful shepherd dogs” he had seen at the site.

“Thanks again to everyone for your support. And happy holidays!” 

Russian dissident Alexei Navalny transferred to Arctic prison

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What is the ‘Polar Wolf’ colony?

The “Polar Wolf” colony, located 60 km (40 miles) north of the Arctic Circle, is thought to be one of the harshest in Russia.

Temperatures there are due to drop to around -28 C (-18.4 Fahrenheit) there over the next week.

The colony was founded in the 1960s as part of the system of forced Soviet labor camps, according to the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper.

The move comes after a court last August handed Navalny a further  a 19-year sentence on extremism charges, which Navalny and his allies say are politically motivated. It also ruled that he should be moved to a special prison for particularly dangerous prisoners, like “Polar Wolf.”

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Navalny has spent most of his detention at the IK-6 penal colony in the Vladimir region, some 250 kilometers east of Moscow. 

tj/rc (AFP, Reuters)

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