Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny, who fell ill last week and was administered an IV, has been out of contact with his team for the past three days.
Prison authorities have prevented his legal team from seeing their client, and Navalny has not been present at his court hearings via video link, according to Navalny Team press secretary Kira Yarmysh.
In a statement on Telegram, she wrote:
“Alexei Navalny's lawyers stood all day outside IK-6 and outside IK-7, a special regime colony in the Vladimir Region. Everywhere they were told to “wait,” and in the end they were refused entry everywhere.
The fact that we cannot find Alexei is particularly worrying, as last week he fell ill in his cell: he became dizzy and lay on the floor. Staff rushed over, lowered Alexei's bed and put him on an IV [intravenous drip — translator’s note].
We don't know what it was, but when you consider that he was deprived of food, kept in a punishment cell with no ventilation, and that his walking time was reduced to a minimum, it looks like he fainted from hunger.
Since the incident, [the] lawyers have seen Alexei and he's doing relatively well.
But now it's the third day and we don't know where he is. Also, before that, there were at least occasional letters from him, albeit censored, but all this week there have been no letters. No letters have been delivered to him either.”
In early December, Navalny said he had been informed of new criminal charges against him. The charges, which fall under Article 214 of the Russian Criminal Code (“vandalism motivated by hatred”) carry a punishment of the restriction of freedom for up to three years, compulsory labour for up to three years, or imprisonment for the same period.
On August 4, 2023, the Moscow City Court sentenced Navalny to 19 years in a “special regime” penal colony after finding him guilty of financing extremism, the creation of an extremist community, and inciting extremism.
On September 27, Navalny revealed that he will be transferred to a single cell-type facility (abbreviated as EPKT) for 12 months due to his “incorrigibility.” This is the strictest possible punishment in any Russian prison. Previously, as Navalny pointed out, he had already been sentenced to SUON (strict conditions of serving a sentence), SHIZO (punishment isolator), and PKT (cell-type room).
Three of Navalny’s lawyers were recently placed on a register of “terrorists and extremists,” after being arrested on suspicion of belonging to an “extremist group.”
Before his January 2021 arrest, Navalny exposed official corruption and led major anti-Kremlin protests across Russia. After recovering from nerve agent poisoning in Germany, executed by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), he returned to Moscow, and was arrested by police officers at passport control at Sheremetyevo Airport.
A joint investigation by Bellingcat, The Insider and CNN, with contributions from Der Spiegel, published in December 2020, revealed the names and ranks of the FSB officers responsible for poisoning Alexei Navalny with the Novichok nerve agent.
After the release of the investigation, Navalny called Konstantin Kudryavtsev, one of the FSB officers mentioned in the report, introducing himself as an assistant to Nikolai Patrushev, the Secretary of Russia’s Security Council. In the conversation that followed, Kudryavtsev gave details of Navalny's poisoning.