Kremlin spokesman says opposition leader Alexei Navalny has moved to an Arctic penal colony but is doing well.

Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny Their whereabouts were not known for more than two weeksThe allies said on Monday that he had been transferred to a penal colony in the Arctic.

The disappearance of Russia's most prominent opposition politician, who mobilized huge protests before being jailed in 2021, has raised concerns among allies, human rights groups and Western governments.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny appears on screen via video link from the IK-2 correctional penal colony in Pokrov during a court hearing in Moscow on May 24, 2022.

Evgeniya Novozinina/Reuters

This suggests the possibility of prisoner transfers, which could take weeks in Russia, where prisoners are moved slowly by rail between remote facilities.

His spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, said on social media: “We have found Alexei Navalny. He is now in IK-3 in the Kharp settlement of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Oblast.”

Yarmysh added: “His lawyer visited him today. Alexei is in good health.”

The Kharib region, inhabited by about 5,000 people, is located above the Arctic Circle. Ivan Zhdanov, who runs Navalny's anti-corruption foundation, said it was “one of the northern and remote colonies.”

“The conditions there are harsh, with a special permafrost regime” and very little contact with the outside world, Zhdanov said.

Navalny was jailed for the first time after surviving an attempt on his life by poisoning. The court extended his sentence to 19 years on extremism charges, and ruled that he be transferred to a safer and harsher prison.

“From the beginning, it was clear that the authorities wanted to isolate Alexei, especially before the elections,” Zhdanov said.

Russia is scheduled to hold presidential elections next March. President Vladimir Putin is expected to easily win a fifth term.

While Navalny's location was still unknown, Leonid Volkov, Navalny's chief of staff, said on social media: “The fact that this is happening now (even though Navalny should have been transferred to another colony two months ago) – now that the elections have been held” has been announced. On this, Navalny's team launched the “Russia Without Putin” campaign – which is 0% accidental and 100% direct political manual control from the Kremlin.

It is no secret to Putin who his main opponent in these “elections” is. “He wants to make sure that Navalny's voice is not heard. This means that everyone must become Navalny's voice,” Volkov said.

A US State Department spokesman welcomed news that Navalny had been located, but said the US remained “deeply concerned about Mr. Navalny's safety and the conditions of his unfair detention.”

“The United States strongly condemns Russia’s continued malicious targeting of Navalny and more than 600 other political prisoners imprisoned by Russia,” the spokesman said. “We will continue to follow their cases closely and call for the release of all those unjustly detained.”

Moscow has for years marginalized opposition figures from elections and political life, a campaign that accelerated after the Kremlin ordered Russian troops to Ukraine in 2022.

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