Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny will reportedly serve his prison sentence near Moscow, according to Russian media sources, although the Kremlin critic’s allies say they are still unsure of his location.
News agency TASS reported on February 27 that Navalny was taken to the Vladimir region, where he will be imprisoned in a penal colony in the city of Pokrov, 100 kilometers east of Moscow.
TASS cited an anonymous source as saying Navalny was taken to the Vladimir region on February 26 and will first undergo quarantine. The source did not say whether he was already in the penal colony.
Earlier, the news site Yarnovosti reported Navalny was in a pre-trail detention center in Kolchugino, Vladimir region, and would be transferred to No. 2 Penal Colony in Pokrov.
The Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) on February 26 confirmed Navalny was moved to a prison from a Moscow detention center where had been held since mid-January.
But the FSIN did not specify where the anti-corruption crusader was being taken to begin serving a 2 1/2 year sentence, leaving family and allies uncertain over his whereabouts, health, and safety.
Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), said Navalny had been sent to a “tough colony” but that he still did not have exact information about the politician’s location.
“We only know from the media,” he wrote on Twitter.
Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said no official notification about his location has been received, only media reports from anonymous sources.
“Therefore, the question ‘where is Navalny? is still valid,” she wrote on Twitter.
Russian authorities typically do not provide information about the transfer of prisoners until after they reach their destination.
Navalny was detained at a Moscow airport in January immediately upon returning from Berlin, where he was recovering from what several Western labs determined was a poisoning attempt using a Novichok-type nerve agent that saw him fall ill on a flight in Siberia in August.
Russia has denied involvement but Navalny has said the assassination attempt was ordered by President Vladimir Putin.
A Moscow court in February ruled that while in Germany he had violated the terms of parole from an older embezzlement case that is widely considered politically motivated.
He was ultimately sentenced 2 ½ years in prison.
Navalny’s detention set off a wave of national protests and a crackdown his supporters.
The European Union is considering fresh sanctions against Russia over the Navalny case and has criticized Moscow for ignoring a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights ordering his release.
With reporting by Current Time, TASS and Yarnovosti