Russia's Navalny describes harsh reality at 'Polar Wolf' Arctic prison

Russia’s Navalny describes harsh reality at ‘Polar Wolf’ Arctic prison

/ 06:10 PM December 26, 2023

Alexei Navalny

FILE – Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is seen on a TV screen, as he appears in a video link provided by the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service in a courtroom of the Second Cassation Court of General Jurisdiction in Moscow, Russia, on Oct. 18, 2022. Allies of Navalny are sounding the alarm and saying that neither they nor his lawyers have heard from him in six days. Navalny is serving a 19-year prison term on the charges of extremism. He was due to appear in court Monday, Dec. 11, 2023 via video link but didn’t. (AP Photo, File)

MOSCOW — Jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny on Tuesday confirmed his arrival at what he described as a snow-swept prison above the Arctic Circle and said he was in excellent spirits despite a tiring 20-day journey to get there.

Navalny posted an update on X via his lawyers after his allies lost touch with him for more than two weeks while he was in transit with no information about where he was being taken, prompting expressions of concern from Western politicians.


READ: As Navalny vanishes from view in Russia, an ally calls it a Kremlin ploy to deepen his isolation

His spokeswoman said on Monday that Navalny, 47, had been tracked down to the IK-3 penal colony north of the Arctic Circle located in Kharp in the Yamal-Nenets region about 1,900 km (1200 miles) northeast of Moscow.


“I am your new Father Frost,” Navalny wrote jokingly in his first post from his new prison, a reference to the harsh weather conditions there.

“Well, I now have a sheepskin coat, an ushanka hat (a fur hat with ear-covering flaps), and soon I will get valenki (traditional Russian winter footwear).

“The 20 days of the transfer were quite tiring, but I’m still in an excellent mood, as Father Frost should be.”

READ: Navalny’s whereabouts unknown; Russian prison says he’s no longer there

Navalny’s new home, known as “the Polar Wolf” colony, is considered to be one of the toughest prisons in Russia. Most prisoners there have been convicted of grave crimes. Winters are harsh – and temperatures are due to drop to around minus 28 Celsius (minus 18.4 Fahrenheit) there over the next week.

About 60 km (40 miles) north of the Arctic Circle, the prison was founded in the 1960s as part of what was once the GULAG system of forced Soviet labour camps, according to the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper.

Navalny, who thanked his supporters and everyone else for their concern about his welfare during his long transfer, said he had seen guards with machineguns and guard dogs and had gone for a walk in the exercise area which he said was located in a neighbouring cell, the floor of which he said was covered with snow.


Otherwise, he said he had just seen the perimeter fence out of a cell window.

“Anyway, don’t worry about me. I’m fine. I’m awfully glad I finally made it here,” said Navalny.

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TAGS: Alexei Navalny, Russia, Vladimir Putin

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