Alexey Navalny has been experiencing long-term health problems.
Jailed Russian opposition leader and President Vladimir Putin's critic Alexey Navalny has been missing for six days after "a serious health-related incident," according to his associates, as per a report in CNN. This comes just as Vladimir Putin begins his presidential re-election campaign. Mr Navalny is being held in a penal colony east of Moscow and has been sentenced to more than 30 years in prison on what he claims are fabricated accusations to suppress his criticism of Vladimir Putin.
According to his aides, Mr Navalny's lawyers had remained outside the penal colony all day but were denied entry to see him after he collapsed in his cell. He also did not appear at scheduled legal hearings about his case. Mr Navalny's press secretary Kira Yarmys said that the lawyers were "informed that the 47-year-old was not at either the IK-6 or IK-7 penal colonies".
"On Friday and throughout today, neither IK-6 nor IK-7 responded to them," Ms Yarmysh said, mentioning that the opposition leader had been missing for six days. As per the outlet, he was last jailed in the IK-6 penal colony east of Moscow.
"The fact that we can't find Alexey is particularly worrying because he fell ill in his cell last week: he got dizzy and laid down on the floor," Ms Yarmysh said.
"The colony staff came over immediately, lowered the cot, laid Alexey down and gave him an IV. We don't know what it was, but given the fact that he's not being fed, is being kept in a punishment cell with no ventilation and the time for walks has been reduced to a minimum, it looks like a hunger faint. Since this incident, the lawyers have seen Alexey and he has been relatively well. But now it's the third day that we don't know where he's. Before that, there were at least occasional letters from him, albeit censored ones, but there have been no letters all week," she continued.
Mr Navalny has experienced long-term health problems after being poisoned with a nerve agent in Siberia in 2020. According to a report in Reuters, "the Kremlin denied trying to kill him and refuses to comment on his case, saying he is treated like any other prisoner."
After being found guilty of multiple offences, including sponsoring extremist activities, the 47-year-old was sentenced to 19 years in jail in August. He was already serving an 11-and-a-half-year sentence in a high-security jail for several accusations including fraud, all of which he denies. Additionally, he has spent at least 21 times in an isolation cell.
According to the Moscow Times, after three of Mr Navalny's attorneys were detained in October, his team issued a warning that Russian authorities intended to increase their control over his communications outside of prison.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he is running for a fifth term. He has over the past two decades built a system of domestic repression and confrontation with the West that is almost certain to guarantee his re-election. His grip on power further tightened in the wake of his decision to invade Ukraine in February 2022, with public dissent against the war effectively silenced through lengthy prison terms for critics.