Navalny Detained as He Arrives Back in Russia

Kremlin critic had been recovering in Germany from poisoning
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2021 2:29 PM CST
Alexei Navalny Held After Landing in Russia
Alexei Navalny sits on the plane prior to a flight from Berlin to Moscow on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov)

Alexei Navalny, a leading Kremlin political opponent, was taken into custody Sunday just after returning to Russia from Germany, where he was recovering from a poisoning. Navalny had just told journalists in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport: "This is the best day in the past five months. Everyone is asking me if I'm scared. I am not afraid. I feel completely fine walking towards the border control." While he was in Germany, Russia had place Navalny on a wanted list over an old fraud case that Navalany and the European Court of Human Rights say was politically motivated, the Washington Post reports. A spokesperson for Navany tweeted Sunday that a lawyer "was not allowed to go with him" when Navalny was detained, per CNN. He was traveling with his wife, Yulia, whom he kissed goodbye as police officers took him.

Russia had ordered Navalny to return, and he announced last week that he was taking a flight Sunday. Failure to appear at a parole hearing was the stated reason for his arrest, per the Guardian, and Navalny could go to prison if the terms of a suspended sentence from 2014 are changed. A crowd of supporters had gathered Sunday to meet Navalny at another airport, where Navalny's flight was scheduled to land, but it was diverted to Sheremetyevo. The day before, Navalny posted a thank-you on Instagram to the people in Germany who helped him during his stay, including: "Doctors and nurses. Physical therapists and police officers"—even "the prosecutors who interrogated me on requests from Russia." After landing Sunday, he'd also told reporters, "I know that I will leave and go home because I'm right and all the criminal cases against me are fabricated." (More Alexei Navalny stories.)

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