Dec 26, 2023 - World

"I'm your new Santa Claus": Navalny makes first comments since disappearance

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on a courtroom screen at Moscow City Court. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/ AFP via Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Tuesday made his first public statement since going missing for two weeks in Russia's prison system and being located at a Siberian penal colony.

Driving the news: Navalny, a vocal adversary of Russian President Vladimir Putin, posted a nine-part message on X (formerly Twitter) detailing his transport to the Arctic facility.

Why it matters: The U.S. State Department previously said it was "deeply concerned" about Navalny's wellbeing and that Russia would "be held accountable" for his treatment in custody.

What he's saying: "I'm fine," Navalny said in a thread early Tuesday morning. "I'm totally relieved that I've finally made it."

  • He began the thread in jest, saying he's "your new Santa Claus."
  • "Well, I now have a sheepskin coat, an ushanka hat (a fur hat with ear-covering flaps), and soon I will get valenki (a traditional Russian winter footwear)," he wrote. "I have grown a beard for the 20 days of my transportation."
  • "Unfortunately, there are no reindeer, but there are huge fluffy, and very beautiful shepherd dogs," he continued. "And the most important thing: I now live above the Arctic Circle. In the village of Kharp on Yamal."

Flashback: Navalny was originally sentenced to 11 years. He was later sentenced to another 19 years on extremism-related charges.

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