Navalny speaks out after resurfacing in Arctic penal colony

Navalny speaks out after resurfacing in Arctic penal colony

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Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny spoke for the first time since he was moved to a penal colony in the Arctic, playfully referring to himself as Santa Clause in a post about his transfer to the new Russian prison.

“I am your new Santa Claus,” Navalny wrote Tuesday on X, formerly Twitter, saying he had grown a beard and was sporting a new sheepskin coat and fur hat. “Unfortunately, there are no reindeer, but there are huge fluffy, and very beautiful shepherd dogs.”

“I don’t say ‘Ho-ho-ho’, but I do say ‘Oh-oh-oh’ when I look out of the window, where I can see a night, then the evening, and then the night again,” he continued. “The 20 days of my transportation were pretty exhausting, but I’m still in a good mood, as befits a Santa Claus.”

Navalny said he was moved Saturday night to a prison near the village of Kharp above the Arctic Circle on the Yamal Peninsula, a tundra in Russia’s Siberia region that is known as the “end of the world.”

Navalny, who is serving a 19-year prison sentence on extremism charges, disappeared for about three weeks before his spokesperson confirmed over the weekend he was moved to the penal colony on Yamal.

The Anti-Corruption Foundation founded by Navalny said Russian President Vladimir Putin likely wanted to isolate his chief critic ahead of the presidential elections this spring.

A lawyer was able to visit Navalny, which the Russian activist said was a surprise because he was taken away suddenly to the penal colony along what he described as a “strange” route.

Navalny said he was relieved that he made it to the prison safely and thanked his supporters across the world who were worried about him during his disappearance.

In describing his surroundings, Navalny said the land is covered in snow and frequented by shepherd dogs.

“Since I’m Santa Claus, you’re probably wondering about the presents,” he wrote. “But I am a special-regime Santa Claus, so only those who have behaved very badly get presents.”

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