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Jailed Kremlin critic Navalny makes first court appearance from Siberian penal colony

By Niamh Kennedy and Anna Chernova, CNN

(CNN) — Jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny has made his first court appearance from the Siberian penal colony he was moved to late last month.

Posting on X, Navalny’s team said he appeared via video link from the IK-3 penal colony in relation to a lawsuit he has filed against the prison administration.

The opposition figure is suing the prison authorities over the conditions of his detention.

Fears for Navalny’s wellbeing mounted last month after his team could not reach him for a fortnight in December. On December 25, his team said that they had finally managed to locate him at the Siberian penal colony in Kharp, to which he had been transferred.

The hearing comes after Navalny provided an insight into life at the remote penal colony, commonly referred to as “Polar Wolf,” in a highly sarcastic social media post Tuesday.

The Russian politician said he was sentenced to seven days in a punishment cell for allegedly failing to “introduce himself according to the format,” not responding to “educational work” and not drawing “appropriate conclusions for himself.”

Navalny provided some details on his routine in the punishment cell, which sees him forced to take his daily walk in freezing temperatures at 6.30am in the morning.

“Few things are as refreshing as a walk in Yamal at 6:30 in the morning. And what a wonderful fresh breeze that blows into the courtyard despite the concrete fence, it’s just wow!,” Navalny remarked.

The Russian politician also shared a picture of his supposed “walking yard” that stretches “11 steps from the wall and 3 to the wall.”

He joked that it is still possible to walk in the -13F temperatures, provided one has “time to grow a new nose, ears, and fingers.”

Kharp, in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District, is almost 2,000 miles from Moscow, where Navalny had previously been held.

Ivan Zhdanov, director of Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation, said after the transfer was discovered that the IK-3 colony was “one of the northernmost and most remote colonies.”

“The conditions there are harsh, with a special regime in the permafrost zone. It is very difficult to get there, and there are no letter delivery systems,” Zhdanov wrote on X.

Navalny was sentenced to 19 years in prison in August last year after being found guilty of creating an extremist community, financing extremist activities and numerous other crimes. He was already serving sentences of 11-and-a-half years in a maximum security facility on fraud and other charges he denies.

Supporters of Navalny claim his arrest and incarceration are a politically motivated attempt to stifle his criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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