Top Putin Opponent Goes Missing

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Alexei Navalny, Putin’s biggest political opponent in Russia, has disappeared from the Russian prison system. He has been imprisoned upon his return for various charges that were most likely politically motivated.

The Russian prison system is the second largest in the world, where prison culture is brutal. Navalny was set to transfer, but those take a notoriously long time. The Washington Post reports:

Supporters of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said Monday that they had lost contact with him and that they have been unable to ascertain his whereabouts for almost a week.

Navalny, who has been convicted on an array of charges widely viewed as political retribution and carrying combined sentences totaling 30 years, was no longer in the prison colony IK-6, in the Vladimir region, about 140 miles east of Moscow where he had been held in recent months, his spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, posted Monday on X.

Navalny could have been extrajudicially killed if the regime deemed him too dangerous to live. He could have also been temporarily disappeared during Russia’s constitutional change, where Putin can now run for a new term. Fox News continues:

Navalny’s disappearance comes as campaigning began for Russia’s presidential election in March. Russian President Vladimir Putin, 71, confirmed Friday that he would be running to secure another six-year term in office. It would mark Putin’s fifth term serving as Russia’s leader.

Navalny was due to be transferred to a “special security” penal colony, a facility with the highest security level in the Russian penitentiary system.

Russia is already a pariah state to the Western world, so the disappearance of Navalny will change few things. Putin’s internal consolidation is still very strong, but his succession will leave some uncertainty.

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