Putin Critic Alexei Navalny

Ex Russia Minister Says Its ‘No Coincidence’ Putin Critic Alexei Navalny Is Missing

Putin Critic Alexei Navalny

Former Russian deputy energy minister Vladimir Milov said the timing of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny’s disappearance was ‘no coincidence’, as he pointed to President Vladimir Putin’s announcement to run again in the elections scheduled in 2024, CNN reported.

Russian Opposition leader Navalny, who has been missing for 17 days now, was absent from two scheduled court hearings conducted via video link on Friday, according to a statement from his team.

Navalny was imprisoned in a penal colony east of Moscow and was sentenced to 19 years in prison in August after he was found guilty of creating an “extremist community, financing extremist activities” and numerous other crimes.

“I think it is a deliberate tactic. It is no coincidence that Navalny disappeared exactly the moment when the so-called sham presidential elections were announced and that Putin announced that he was going to be running again,” Milov said.

“Putin is really willing to show that he is going to enter the Kremlin for another term through intimidation, through repression, through pressure on society, and that is clearly a blackmail on all the opposition forces,” Milov added.

Navalny’s team said the prominent politician has now been missing for 17 days, with his current whereabouts unknown.

“Today Alexey was supposed to have two trials. He was again not brought to the meetings. Navalny has never been hidden for so long,” Navalny’s team said in a Telegram post.

The unprecedented duration of Navalny’s absence from public view has also sparked concerns about his well-being and safety, according to CNN.

With Navalny missing for days now, his aides have restated a plea for information, offering a cryptocurrency reward for complete and reliable details about his current location or status.

Asked repeatedly last week about Navalny’s absence, the Kremlin reported, “neither the intention nor the ability to monitor the fate of prisoners and the process of their stay in the relevant institutions.”

According to CNN, Navalny posed one of the most serious threats to Putin’s legitimacy during his rule, which has spanned more than two decades.

The dissident was taken from Russia to Germany in 2020 after he was poisoned with Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent. Navalny had to be airlifted from the Siberian city of Omsk and arrived comatose at a hospital in Berlin.

Navalny was immediately incarcerated upon his return to Russia in January 2021, on charges of violating the terms of his probation related to a fraud case brought against him in 2013, which he also dismissed as politically motivated, CNN reported.

He has also campaigned from prison against Russia’s war against Ukraine and has even attempted to mobilize public opposition to the war. (ANI)

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