Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny disappears from maximum security prison

Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has gone missing from his maximum security prison in Russia, his staff said on Monday.

Mr Navalny’s spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, said representatives of the IK-6 prison in Melekhovo, 235 km (145 miles) east of Moscow, had told his lawyer that he was no longer at the facility.

“Where they have taken him, they refuse to say,” she said on X, formerly Twitter.

The dissident’s disappearance followed the announcement on Friday that President Vladimir Putin would stand for another term.

Navalny aide Leonid Volkov posted on X that the timing was “0 per cent coincidence and 100 per cent direct manual political control from the Kremlin”.

He added: “It is no secret to Putin who his main opponent is in these ‘elections’. And he wants to make sure that Navalny’s voice is not heard.”

Mr Navalny was given a 19-year prison sentence in August over extremism charges that human rights groups said were politically motivated. Supporters claim that he has been tortured in jail.

Despite his incarceration, the head of the Anti-Corruption Foundation has posted regular messages on social media attacking Mr Putin’s regime, branding Russian officials “crooks and thieves”.

Mr Navalny, who is by far the most prominent opposition leader in Russia, attempted to run against Mr Putin in the 2018 election before he was barred by the electoral commission.

With additional reporting from agencies. This story is being updated.

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