Navalny Moved To Penitentiary In Pokrov, Says Russian News Agency

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Marching on Street with Others in Background; adapted from image at commons.wikimedia.org with credit to Evgeny Feldman, subject to Creative Commons license; original image at commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEV_1795_(cropped1).jpg, with license information at creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en and creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

(Article text ©2021 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – March 15, 2021 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-navalny-moved-pokrov-prison-tass/31151755.html)

Russia state news outlet TASS has been reporting that opposition politician Aleksei Navalny is being held in a penitentiary in the city of Pokrov, though the anti-corruption campaigner’s staff say they have not received official confirmation of his whereabouts.

TASS said on March 15 that a letter it obtained from the 235th Garrison Court showed Navalny was in the IK-2 prison, where he apparently was transferred several days ago.

The question of Navalny’s whereabouts came up after his lawyers said they went to see the Kremlin critic at a detention center in the Vladimir region, northeast of Moscow, only to be told that he was no longer in the facility.

TASS said in its report that the letter confirming Navalny’s location was a notification from the court regarding his case against the inaction of investigators in connection with his hospitalization in Omsk last August after he was the victim of a poison attack that nearly killed him.

The notification was sent to the head of IK-2 and clarifies that this was done “to notify Navalny” that his complaint will be considered on March 16.

The news agency posted a photo of the letter in its report.

The court asks the administration of the colony “to ensure the participation of Navalny in the court session by means of a videoconference connection,” the letter says, according to TASS.

Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), said in a tweet on March 15 that despite the report, “we still have no official information about the location of Navalny.”

Navalny, a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, was sent to prison last month to serve two and a half years over alleged parole violations related to an embezzlement case he and rights activists say was trumped up for political reasons, something the authorities deny.

After he was moved last week, TASS reported that he was in a penitentiary in Pokrov, but was in quarantine, which can last as long as 15 days under Russian law. Navalny’s lawyers have said since that they have received no official notification as to where their client is.

Russian authorities typically do not provide information about the transfer of prisoners until after they reach their destination and Navalny’s lawyers later reiterated that they still did know his whereabouts.

“Aleksei’s lawyers went to IK-2 in Pokrov. There they were told that there was no information about the delivery of Navalny, and in general the institution had ‘a short day.’ It was 15:30 local time. Where Aleksei is is still unknown and the FSIN [Federal Penitentiary Service] is clearly going to hide it as long as possible,” a tweet from Navalny’s certified Twitter account said on March 12.

On March 3, Navalny said that he had been moved to Detention Center No. 3 in the town of Kolchugino, though it was expected that eventually he would be moved to a penal colony in Pokrov, 100 kilometers east of Moscow. The colony is known as one of the toughest in the European part of the Russian Federation.

As news of his transfer broke, dozens of countries, including the United States, called for his immediate release and an investigation into his poisoning last year with a military-grade nerve agent.

Navalny was detained at a Moscow airport in January immediately upon returning from Berlin, where he was recovering from what several Western labs determined was a poisoning attempt using a Novichok-type nerve agent that saw him fall ill on a flight in Siberia in August 2020.

Russia has denied involvement but Navalny has said the assassination attempt was ordered by Putin.

A Moscow court in February ruled that, while in Germany, Navalny had violated the terms of parole from an older embezzlement case that is widely considered to be politically motivated.

His suspended 3 1/2 year sentence was converted into jail time, though the court reduced that amount to 2 1/2 years for time already served in detention.

Navalny’s incarceration set off a wave of national protests and a crackdown against his supporters.

On March 2, the European Union and the United States imposed fresh sanctions against Russia over the Navalny case.

On March 12, the representative for Poland read out a statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council that said the actions against Navalny by Russian authorities were “unacceptable and politically motivated.”

With reporting by TASS