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Russian President Vladimir Putin's staunchest critic has vanished from a penal colony.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was moved to an unknown location without warning, aides have revealed after they attempted to contact him on Tuesday (June 14).
Navalny's chief of staff Leonid Volkov revealed that the jailed Kremlin critic had been abruptly transferred in a social media statement.
"Alexei Navalny was taken away from the Penal Colony No. 2 [near Moscow]," Volkov said on Telegram.
"His lawyer, who came to see him, was held at the gate until 2pm, and then was told that there is no such convict."
Volkov added: "We do not know where Alexei is now and to which colony he is being taken."
The Kremlin critic's press secretary Kira Yarmysh also confirmed that he is missing on Twitter.
"Of course, neither Alexei's attorneys nor his relatives were informed about his transfer in advance," she said.
Alexei Navalny is missing from the Pokrov penal colony. He didn't show up for the meeting with his lawyers today. We have no further information on where Navalny is being taken. https://t.co/eOD0Pn0irQ— Maria Pevchikh (@pevchikh) June 14, 2022
"There were rumours that he was going to be transferred to the high-security penal colony IK-6 'Melekhovo', but it is impossible to know when (and if) he will actually arrive there."
Yarmysh added that the longer Navalny's whereabouts are unknown, the risk for his safety increases.
"He remains one-on-one with the system that has already tried to kill him, so our main task now is to locate him as soon as possible," she said.
Navalny, 46, returned to Russia in January 2021 after he recovered in a German hospital following a Novichok poisoning attempt, the same nerve agent that was used in the attempted assassination of double-agent Sergei Skripal in the Salisbury Poisonings.
Some in the West have said the military grade nerve agent that was put into his underpants by state security agents, but the Kremlin have furiously denied this.
Of course, neither Alexei's attorneys nor his relatives were informed about his transfer in advance. There were rumors that he was going to be transferred to the high-security penal colony IK-6 "Melekhovo", but it is impossible to know when (and if) he will actually arrive there.— Кира Ярмыш (@Kira_Yarmysh) June 14, 2022
He was arrested as soon as his plane touched down in Moscow and has been incarcerated ever since.
He was initially imprisoned for two and a half years for violating his parole conditions of a 2014 fraud charge.
In March, the Russian opposition leader was sentenced to an additional nine year sentence for fraud and contempt of court.
Until now, he has been incarcerated at Penal Colony No. 2 in Pokrov, which is 100 kilometres east of Moscow.
Navalny first rose to international prominence for opposing Putin and his government.
The lawyer and anti-corruption activist had a strong social media presence which he used to lash out about the corruption of Russia and the Kremlin.
He has also organised anti-government demonstrations, has run for office in a bid to reform the country, and formed the Anti-Corruption Foundation.
Featured Image Credit: American Photo Archive / Alamy Stock Photo. REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo.
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