Feb. 26 (UPI) — Russia transferred opposition leader Alexei Navalny to a penal colony to serve his 2.5-year sentence, the country’s penitentiary chief said Friday.
Navalny was sent to the new location more than three weeks after a Moscow court ordered him to serve the rest of his sentence in prison for violating his parole conditions.
Alexander Kalashnikov, director of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia, declined to reveal Navalny’s exact location. He said the opposition leader was being housed under “absolutely normal conditions.”
“I guarantee that there is no threat to [his] health or life,” Kalashnikov told reporters. “He will be remanded in completely adequate conditions. Should he desire so, he will be involved in production activities.”
Navalny’s lawyers told CNN that his family and attorneys haven’t been given details about his transfer.
Navalny was arrested in January immediately after he returned to Russia from Germany. He spent five months in Berlin for treatment after Novichok poisoning left him in a coma as he traveled in Siberia.
In December, Navalny said he was able to dupe a member of Russia’s Federal Security Service spy agency into revealing they were behind the poisoning but the Kremlin dismissed his claims. The spy allegedly said the toxin was placed in the “inner seams” of Navalny’s underwear while he stayed at the Xander hotel in the Siberian city of Tomsk.
Russian officials said Navalny violated the terms of his probation from a 2014 case while in Berlin.
Navalny was sentenced in December 2014 to three years and six months of a suspended sentence and five years of probation in 2014 after he was found guilty of embezzling $ 470,000 from cosmetics company Yves Rocher Vostok and stealing another $ 80,000 from a processing company.
The European Court of Human Rights said the conviction was politically motivated and “unlawful and arbitrary.”
In the years since, Navalny’s been arrested a number of times for organization and participating in anti-Putin protests throughout the country.