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Alexei Navalny would have been transferred to a high security prison in Russia | Alexei Navalny

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny has been moved to a maximum security prison, according to the chairman of a prison oversight commission.

On Tuesday, Navalny was transferred to the IK-6 prison in the village of Melekhovo in the Vladimir region, Russian news agencies reported, citing Sergei Yazhan, chairman of the regional Public Supervision Commission.

IK-6 is said to have a notorious reputation with numerous allegations of torture and abuse.

Prison transfers in Russia sometimes take days and are shrouded in secrecy. The lack of information on the fate of Navalny, the most determined political enemy of Russian President Vladimir Putin, had worried his allies.

Navalny’s closest ally, Leonid Volkov, said on Telegram that the politician’s lawyer went to visit him in jail earlier on Tuesday and was told that “there is no of such condemned here”.

Navalny was arrested in January 2021 upon his return from Germany – where he was recovering from nerve agent poisoning he blames on the Kremlin – and sentenced to two and a half years for violating parole.

In March 2022, Navalny was sentenced to nine years in prison for fraud and contempt of court, charges he dismissed as politically motivated and an attempt by authorities to keep him behind bars as long as possible.

The judge ordered him to serve the new sentence in a maximum security prison. He was supposed to be transferred to one after losing his appeal.

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The new sentencing follows a year-long crackdown by the Kremlin against Navalny supporters, other opposition activists and independent journalists, during which authorities appear keen to stifle any dissent.

Navalny’s close associates have faced criminal charges and many have left the country, while his group’s political infrastructure – an anti-corruption foundation and a nationwide network of regional offices – has been destroyed after it was branded a extremist organization.

Until his transfer on Tuesday, Navalny was at the IK-2 penal colony in the Vladimir region, about 60 miles east of the Russian capital. The Pokrov City Institution stands out among Russian penitentiaries for its particularly strict detention routines, which include standing at attention for hours on end.

Russia’s secrecy over prisoner transfers has been criticized by human rights advocates.

Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

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Post expires at 3:44pm on Saturday June 25th, 2022