Navalny lives

Putin wants Navalny isolated to reduce his influence, even from prison, in Russia’s presidential election



December 26, 2023 - 2:22 PM

The Russian dissident Alexei Navalny died in an arctic penal colony last week. Photo by Babushkinsky District Court/TASS via ZUMA Press/TNS

Some residual good news for courage in 2023: Alexei Navalny is alive and has been located in a distant prison colony. His team says the leading opponent of Vladimir Putin’s despotism was moved without announcement to a prison called the Polar Wolf in the remote Arctic region of Yamalo-Nenets. This a frozen, isolated area known for some of the most brutal conditions in the Putin-era gulag.

The context for his isolation is the Russian presidential election scheduled for March 17. There’s no chance Mr. Putin will lose in the rigged political system. But before Mr. Navalny disappeared, he and his team launched a campaign to expose that Mr. Putin is far less popular than the Kremlin claims.

In the runup to the elections “people are very sensitive to political information,” so there’s an opportunity “to talk to people” and “spread information about [Mr. Putin’s] crimes,” Kira Yarmysh, Mr. Navalny’s spokesperson, told us recently. “The idea is that many Russians are dissatisfied with what is going on, and it’s very important that they see they are not alone.”