Navalny makes court appearance via video link for first time since Arctic transfer

Alexey Navalny. Photo: Mediazona

Alexey Navalny. Photo: Mediazona

Jailed Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny appeared via video link in a court appearance from the new maximum security correctional facility in the Arctic where he was moved last month, Mediazona reported on Wednesday.

Navalny was transferred from his prison in central Russia’s Vladimir region to a prison colony in the village of Kharp in the remote northern Yamalo-Nenets autonomous region at the end of December after a prolonged disappearance.

“Your honour, I am so happy to see you all — a tear is running down my cheek,” Navalny said, wishing the court a happy new year and adding that the conditions in his new prison were “better than in Vladimir”.

Navalny’s legal challenge to his being placed in a punishment cell for 24 days for supposedly insulting a prison guard in October was discussed at the hearing. A second challenge, concerning a letter sent by his wife that Navalny said he was prevented from receiving, is due to be examined at a subsequent hearing.

Initially sentenced to 2.5 years in jail for parole violations in 2021, Navalny was subsequently given another nine years on charges of fraud and embezzlement in 2022, and then a further 19 years on “extremism” charges in August.

On 6 December, Navalny’s lawyers raised concerns that they had been unable to contact him. His whereabouts remained unknown for almost three weeks, during which time Navalny was transported from his penal colony in Vladimir to Kharp. On Christmas Day Navalny’s lawyers announced they had tracked him down to one of Russia’s toughest prisons.

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