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UN Human Rights Committee asks Russia to provide information on Navalny's whereabouts

Following a request from Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (ACF), the UN Human Rights Committee has asked the Russian government to provide information on the incarcerated politician’s status, whereabouts, and state of health, as per a tweet from ACF Chairwoman Maria Pevchikh.

The request was originally submitted on December 14, according to Pevchikh.

Mariana Katzarova, the UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in the Russian Federation, issued an official statement raising her concerns about the politician's disappearance:

“I am greatly concerned that the Russian authorities will not disclose Mr. Navalny’s whereabouts and wellbeing for such a prolonged period of time which amounts to enforced disappearance.
I have learned that the court hearing on the violations of Mr. Navalny's human rights in detention, scheduled for Friday, did not take place. Mr. Navalny’s lawyers, who have been prevented from meeting him since 6 December, were told by the court that their client is no longer held in the Vladimir region, without providing any further details.”

Alexei Navalny’s associates and legal team have not heard from the politician for the past 13 days. Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service recently issued a statement that Navalny had apparently “left the Vladimir region,” without specifying where he was transferred.

One of the politician’s lawyers was told that Navalny had allegedly left the Vladimir Region as early as December 11, according to a tweet by spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh. She recalled that the politician's legal team had not seen Alexei since December 6:

“Alexei has ‘gone outside the Vladimir Region,’ the defence lawyer was told in court. Where exactly — we do not know. It apparently happened on 11 December.
I remind you that the lawyers haven’t seen Alexei since December 6. We don’t know why they weren’t allowed to meet with him if Alexei was still in IK-6.”

Another tweet from Yarmysh today said the ACF had written to over 200 pre-trial detention centers across the country over the weekend requesting information on his whereabouts:

“Today Alexey is supposed to have 7 court appearances. The first two have already taken place — he was not shown there even by video link. The cases have been suspended until ‘Navalny's whereabouts are established.’
Over the weekend, ACF’s lawyers made inquiries to more than 200 pre-trial detention centers across the country. We are awaiting answers.”

Last week, when asked whether the Kremlin was aware of Navalny's whereabouts, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov replied that the Kremlin had “neither the intention nor the ability to monitor the fate of prisoners and the process of their stay in the relevant institutions.”

On December 11, Navalny's lawyer at the IK-6 penal colony was told that the politician was no longer listed there as a prisoner. The prison authorities refused to say where he had been transferred. According to spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh, Navalny collapsed in his cell after feeling dizzy in early December, and was administered an IV [intravenous drip — translator’s note]. Communication with Navalny ceased after the incident — he was no longer connected to court hearings via video link, nor did he send or receive correspondence from his legal team or associates.

Prior to being arrested in January 2021, 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.

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.

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.

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