Write to Russia: Aleksei Navalny – imprisoned for peaceful participation in national politics – died in custody aged 47

Aleksei Navalny is a prominent Russian opposition politician, anti-corruption campaigner and critic of President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government. In August 2020, he was poisoned with what experts later concluded to be the military-grade nerve agent Novichok. With the acquiescence of the Russian authorities, he was evacuated to Berlin, Germany, for treatment while in a coma. After recovering, Aleksei Navalny returned to Moscow on 17 January 2021 and was immediately arbitrarily arrested. He then began serving an unjust 19-year jail sentence in Penal Colony No. 6 in Vladimir region. Amnesty International said that Aleksei Navalny has been ‘constantly targeted for harsher treatment by prison administrations since his arbitrary arrest in January 2021.’ Memorial has recognised Aleksei Navalny as a political prisoner and Amnesty International has designated him a prisoner of conscience.

However, as The Guardian and other media reported, Aleksei Navalny’s lawyers were last able to contact him on 6 December 2023 in the penal colony in Vladimir region where he had been serving his sentence. Amnesty International and Memorial expressed concerns he may have been forcibly disappeared and removed from the Penal Colony where he has been serving his sentence and his whereabouts is unknown. Amnesty International says ‘Transfers nearly always put inmates’ health and well-being at risk as they are exposed to mistreatment and harassment.’

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “We once more call for his immediate release and an end to the continued repression of independent voices in Russia,” while Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric expressed “serious concerns” about Navalny and called for his release “in line with relevant judgements of the European Court of Human Rights.”

On 25 December 2023 Navalny’s spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said he had been traced to a penal colony about 1,200 miles north-east of Moscow in the settlement of Kharp in the Yamal-Nenets region, where a lawyer had been able to visit him. “We have found Alexei Navalny,” KIra Yarmysh wrote on Twitter/X.

Write to Aleksei Navalny

AP: Denis Kaminev

To write to Aleksei Navalny to express your support for him, please send your letter as an email to us at: letters-to-prisoners@protonmail.com. We shall translate the letter into Russian for you and either, depending on your request, mail the translated letter on your behalf to Aleksei or return the letter to you for posting in an envelope with an address written in Russian. If we send the letter on your behalf, we ask that you compensate us for the cost of postage from the UK (currently £2.20 – $2.73; €2.52). To learn more about our letter writing project, click here: Write to Russia.

The address for writing letters to him is now:

629420, Ямало-Ненецкий автономный округ, Приуральский район, поселок Харп, улица Гагарина, 1, ИК-3 «Полярный волк», Навальному Алексею Анатольевичу, 1976 г. р.

The case of Aleksei Navalny has been widely covered by many media outlets. For more information, visit the websites of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch or, in Russian, Political Prisoners. Memorial.

Originally published on 15 December 2023, this text was updated on 25 December 2023 when Aleksei Navalny’s whereabouts became known.

(Updated: 29 February 2024) Aleksei Navalny died in custody on 16 February 2024. The authorities claim he died of ‘natural causes’ in the penal colony but his colleagues are investigating the immediate causes of his death. In any case, the poisoning of Aleksei Navalny with Novichok followed by his torturous treatment for over three years in the Russian penitentiary system (with 308 days in punishment cells) demonstrate that the authorities were seeking to kill him – You can read more about Aleksei Navalny on our website, including here – RiR.

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