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Alexei Navalny during a hearing (June 22): "Often there are guards who see something"


Alexander Zemlianichenko / dpa

It has been about two weeks since lawyers last had contact with him. Now Alexei Navalny's team is looking for imprisoned opposition politicians in Russia with a reward. Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh told the news portal zdfheute.de on Wednesday. "Right now, we're still hopeful that someone can give us information," she said. "Actually, it is the case that at least other prisoners notice something during a prisoner transport. Often there are guards who see something."

More than two weeks ago, lawyers last had contact with the Kremlin critic in a prison camp in the Vladimir region east of Moscow. Since then, however, there has been no trace of Navalny, who is internationally classified as a political prisoner. The Russian authorities only said that he was no longer in the camp.

Legally, there are no restrictions on how long a transfer between two detention centers can take, Jarmysh said. "So anything can happen to him at this time. He is now completely at the mercy of the people who tried to kill him three years ago," she said. In 2020, Navalny narrowly survived a poison attack, which he attributes to Russian intelligence.

His team sees the approaching presidential election in Russia, in which head of state Vladimir Putin wants to be confirmed, as the reason for the abduction of the opposition politician. "The Kremlin didn't want Alexei to make any statements at this time. That's why I'm sure Putin gave the order to transport Alexei somewhere," Yarmysh said. The U.S. and other countries are demanding clarification from Russia about Navalny's whereabouts.

U.S. government "very concerned"

The U.S. government, meanwhile, expressed concern over the reports of Navalny's disappearance. "We are very concerned about these reports," National Security Council communications director John Kirby said Wednesday. However, it could not be confirmed.

Kirby went on to say that Navalny should not have been detained in the first place. The U.S. government is calling on Moscow and the Kremlin to immediately release Navalny and ensure that his family is informed of his whereabouts.