MAKHACHKALA, Russia -- The coordinator of a team of Daghestani activists associated with imprisoned Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny went incommunicado in the North Caucasus region on April 12, a day after he announced the inception of the group.
Local activists in Daghestan's capital, Makhachkala, on April 12, raised concerns about the whereabouts of Eduard Atayev, whose telephone had been switched off since April 11 when he officially announced Navalny’s team in the city.
Atayev's assistant, Murad Manapov, told RFE/RL that after Atayev announced that Navalny's team started operating in Makhachkala, he left the city for his native village of Endirei near the regional capital "to have a rest."
"I asked him to message me when he gets there, which he did not. I thought then that he just forgot to do so, but in the morning it turned out that his phone was switched off," Manapov said.
Manapov said Atayev was expected to join his team in the morning and his "disappearance" is strange. He added that activists were looking for Atayev's relatives in order to turn to police for help to locate him.
Hours after Manapov talked to RFE/RL, he also "went missing," according to his associates.
Earlier in February, an initial attempt to set up Navalny’s team in Makhachkala failed after its coordinator-to-be, Ruslan Ablyakimov, who arrived in the region from Moscow, was attacked and beaten by unidentified individuals.
The coordinator of the network of Navalny's teams across Russia, Leonid Volkov, has said that despite Navalny's incarceration in February the teams will continue their work to derail the ruling United Russia party's stranglehold on power in parliamentary elections in September.
Navalny and his supporters have developed a "smart voting" system, which is aimed at undercutting United Russia candidates.
Under the system, voters can enter their address into a special app, which will then give them a list of the candidates deemed most likely to defeat their United Russia rivals regardless of their party affiliation.
Navalny was imprisoned after returning to Russia in January from his recuperation in Germany after his exposure to a nerve agent last August in Siberia. He has accused President Vladimir Putin of ordering his assassination, something the Kremlin denies.
Navalny has complained of back pain and numbness in his hands and legs and accused the authorities of withholding adequate medical treatment.
Navalny declared a hunger strike in late March, raising even more concerns about his overall health.