Alexei Navalny missing: Russian courts suspend hearings against Putin’s rival

Russian judges have halted the new criminal investigation into jailed opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, who has not been heard from for several days. The measure taken by the courts covers seven judicial hearings, which will be postponed “until Navalny’s whereabouts are determined.” His lawyers fear the Kremlin may have kept him in solitary confinement or even killed him. According to his supporters, the activist has not contacted his lawyers since December 6; a United Nations official said his absence amounted to “enforced disappearance”. Just as Vladimir Putin announces his candidacy for a fifth term in the presidential elections, the situation of his Russian rival becomes increasingly mysterious.

Aleksei Navalny disappeared from a prison in the Vladimir region near Moscow last week. The activist, who was sentenced to a total of nearly three decades in prison, is suspected of being transferred to a “special regime” colony where he could be held in solitary confinement for years under Russia’s harshest prison regime. Navalny’s deputy, Kira Yarmysh, said his team had sent requests to nearly 200 Russian pre-trial detention centers seeking more information about the missing opposition leader. However, he could not find any information. Regarding the incident, the Kremlin did not respond to questions about the man’s whereabouts. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said his team had “neither the intention nor the ability to trace the fate of the detainees.”

“I am deeply concerned that the Russian authorities have not disclosed the whereabouts of Mr. Navalny for such a long period of time, which amounts to enforced disappearance,” said Mariana Katzarova, the United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Russian Federation. “I have learned that the court hearing scheduled for Friday, December 15, regarding Navalny’s human rights violations in detention, did not take place. The court ordered Navalny’s lawyers, who have been banned from meeting him since December 6, to hear that their client, Katzarova, is now in the Vladimir region, without giving further details. “He is not being detained,” he added.

The activist’s supporters also fear he may have been hospitalized after collapsing earlier this month due to poor hygiene and malnutrition in the Vladimir IK-6 prison, where he is serving a sentence on fraud charges. In August, the man was sentenced to another 19 years in a “special regime” colony on charges of extremism. The opponent has always maintained that the accusations against him are of a political nature. Navalny’s death came as Putin launched his campaign for a fifth presidential term. No other leader in Russia has had such longevity since Stalin’s time. Meanwhile, Moscow, St. In St. Petersburg and Novosibirsk, Navalny’s supporters have launched an anti-Putin guerrilla campaign that includes billboards with QR codes linked to a website and asking critics of the Russian president to use nonviolent tactics. expressing their dissent.

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Source: Today IT