Kremlin critic, Alexei Navalny, has been transferred from a Moscow jail to an unknown location, his aides said Thursday, suggesting he may be beginning a prison sentence condemned as politically motivated.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent opponent was this month sentenced to more than two years in a penal colony for breaching his parole terms while recovering in Germany from a poisoning attack.
Navalny lawyer, Olga Mikhailova, said the defence team did not know where Navalny was being taken but suggested he could be transferred to a penal colony.
“They didn’t tell anyone where he is being sent,” Mikhailova told AFP.
Navalny’s right-hand man Leonid Volkov said the opposition politician’s family has not been informed of his whereabouts, expressing concern over lack of transparency.
Eva Merkacheva, a member of Moscow’s public commission that monitors detainees’ human rights, said she was confident Navalny had been sent to a penal colony.
“There are just no other options,” she told AFP, adding by law the opposition politician should serve his sentence in a prison not far from the capital.
Navalny spent months recovering in Germany from the attack with nerve agent Novichok that saw him fall ill on a flight in Siberia in August. Russia has denied involvement.
He was immediately arrested on return to Moscow in mid-January, and Amnesty International declared Navalny a prisoner of conscience.
This week the London-based activist group said it no longer recognised Navalny as a prisoner of conscience because of past “advocacy of hatred” comments, although it vowed to still push for his release.
Amnesty’s decision sparked an outcry among Navalny supporters.
On Thursday, prominent Russian pranksters said they tricked top Amnesty directors into admitting that their decision to rescind Navalny’s status of prisoner of conscience “has done a lot of damage”.