Midnight convoy on the ice road. Live cam footage likely captured Russian authorities transporting Navalny’s body
Сергей Голубев|Максим Литаврин|Александр Бородихин|Давид Френкель|Дата-отдел
Midnight convoy on the ice road. Live cam footage likely captured Russian authorities transporting Navalny’s body

The FSIN bus heads to Salekhard as part of the convoy. Screenshot: Mediazona

Three days following the official declaration of Alexei Navalny’s death in the Arctic prison, his family remains unable to claim his body, or even see it. In the penal colony, Lyudmila Navalnaya, Alexei’s mother, was informed that her son’s body had been transported to a morgue in the city of Salekhard—a facility now asserting it does not possess the body.

Mediazona conducted an analysis of live cam footage captured at the ice road linking the town Labytnangi, closest to the penal colony in the village of Kharp, with Salekhard, the only ground route to the regional hub. We were able to identify a midnight convoy of four vehicles, including those of the FSIN, the penitentiary service, crossing the frozen expanse of Ob river towards Salekhard.

This timing leads us to believe that Navalny’s body was being transported to Salekhard in this convoy.

What happened to Navalny’s body after his death

The document handed to Alexei Navalny’s mother by the prison colony staff indicated that he died on February 16 at 2:17 PM local time (GMT+5). An inmate from the IK-3 prison told Novaya Gazeta Europe that the colony was aware of the death four hours prior. The death was officially announced at 4:11 PM local time.

The local ambulance service reported that medics reached the colony in seven minutes and attempted resuscitation for over half an hour. An unnamed Salekhard ambulance station worker then told Novaya Gazeta that the body was taken to a hospital in Labytnangi—a town half an hour’s drive from Kharp village. It was only on the evening of February 16, according to this source, that Navalny was brought to the morgue at the Salekhard District Clinical Hospital.

Mediazona reviewed live cam footage near the only land crossing between Labytnangi and Salekhard and found the FSIN convoy traveling this route on the night of February 16 to 17—most likely carrying the politician’s body.

The ice road and cameras

The colony in Kharp, where Navalny was held, and the nearest town, Labytnangi, are located on the left bank of the Ob river. Salekhard, the capital of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, is on the right bank. There is no bridge between Labytnangi and Salekhard across the 1,5-mile river: in summer, a ferry operates, and in winter, an ice crossing is established. Excluding helicopter transport, the ice road is the only route between IK-3 and the Salekhard morgue.

On a local internet provider’s website, Mediazona found publicly accessible street live camera feeds from both sides of the crossing—helping locals assess the condition of the crossing and monitor ferry queues. A week’s archive of footage is also available.

The first camera of interest is located on the Labytnangi side, capturing the entire road across the river to Salekhard from a distance, while the second is near the exit onto the Salekhard side. The footage from the first camera is less detailed than from the second due to distance, and the second camera’s footage is interrupted every few minutes due to webcam malfunctions: it constantly restarts and takes a few seconds to refocus. Despite these issues, we managed to find the moment of interest in recordings from both cameras.

Mediazona carefully examined the entire day of February 16, starting at dawn, when Navalny was usually taken for a walk.

A few minutes before midnight of February 17, for the first time that day, police patrol service cars appeared in the frame. This was the only instance that day when several state agencies vehicles moved as part of a single convoy.

The convoy

The convoy included, besides the lead and tail police patrol cars, a grey sedan with civilian plates and a UAZ minibus marked with two characteristic green stripes, identifying it as belonging to FSIN, the penitentiary service. The convoy moved noticeably slower than other vehicles on the road. The lead police car periodically slowed down and even stopped to ensure the others did not fall behind.

At midnight, the vehicles reached the other side and continued towards Salekhard. Mediazona could not find publicly available live streams in the city that could track their further route.

To determine whether the FSIN convoy’s midnight crossing of the Ob river was an unusual event rather than a routine procedure, we reviewed records from the preceding days. During this period, there were no instances of any convoys crossing at midnight.

Return Navalny’s body to his family

The recording discovered by Mediazona confirms that FSIN employees of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug transported Alexei Navalny’s body to Salekhard on the night before his mother, Lyudmila, and lawyers arrived to the Arctic village. We do not know where the politician’s body could have been taken after the crossing, but it is clear that it was intentionally hidden from relatives.

Mediazona, along with thousands of Russians, demands that Alexei Navalny’s body be returned to his family.

Editor: Dmitry Treschanin

Support Mediazona now!

Your donations directly help us continue our work

Load more