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Putin critic Alexei Navalny has been unexpectedly transferred to a new prison that his supporters are describing as “one of the toughest and most torturous in Russia”.

The jailed Russian opposition leader – who received a 9-year sentence in March after being convicted of fraud charges he argues are politically-motivated – was taken from Correctional Colony No.2. in Prokov, about 65 miles outside of Moscow, to the IK-6 penal colony farther east in Melekhovo, according to Russian state media.

“Even if the reports about Navalny being transferred to the Melekhovo Penal Colony are true, it is hardly a relief. This colony is known to be one of the toughest and most torturous in Russia,” Anna Veduta, the vice president of the Navalny-founded Anti-Corruption Foundation, said in a statement obtained by Fox News.

“Before Navalny’s appeal to a nine-year sentence in a maximum-security prison was upheld, there were already rumors he would be transferred to this colony,” Veduta’s statement added. “Navalny passed a message saying: ‘the prisoners from the strict regime colony ‘Melekhovo’ write that prison authorities are equipping a ‘prison within a prison’ for me there. They say that if you Google ‘Melekhovo’ there will be stories of how they pull out convicts’ nails.”

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is seen on a screen via a video link from the IK-2 corrective penal colony in Pokrov during a court hearing to consider an appeal against his prison sentence in Moscow, Russia, on Tuesday, May 24.
(REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina)

Navalny’s spokesperson said Tuesday that his legal team wasn’t made aware of the transfer.

Kira Yarmysh tweeted that Navalny’s lawyer went to visit him at the Correctional Colony No. 2 facility, but after waiting at a checkpoint, was told by staff there that “there is no such convict here.”

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is seen via a video link provided by the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service, standing next to his layers during a court session in Pokrov on March 22

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is seen via a video link provided by the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service, standing next to his layers during a court session in Pokrov on March 22
(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Veduta also said “Alexei might be on his way to the Far East right now with the authorities using the reports about Melekhovo to deceive and placate the public” and that “we will not be able to confirm Navalny’s whereabouts before his lawyers have access to him.”

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Alexei Navalny used a court appearance in late May to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine.

Alexei Navalny used a court appearance in late May to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine.
(REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina)

In 2020, Navalny survived an assassination attempt that he blamed on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Putin’s loudest opponent in Russia, Alexei Navalny is in the hands of the very same people that tried to assassinate him in August 2020,” Veduta added. “His sudden supposed transfer is of extreme concern.”

Fox News’ Liz Friden contributed to this report.

 

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