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Russia’s leading critic detained on return to Moscow after poisoning

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Russia’s main Kremlin critic, Alexey Navalny, was detained by native police on Sunday, moments after his return to the nation and 5 months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok.

Mr Navalny was taken away by cops on the border with out rationalization, his spokesperson Kira Yarmysh tweeted.

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Alexei Navalny sits on the aircraft previous to a flight to Moscow, on the Airport Berlin Brandenburg (BER) in Schoenefeld, close to Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. Main Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny flew house to Russia on Sunday after recovering in Germany from his poisoning in August with a nerve agent. (AP Photograph/Mstyslav Chernov) (AP)

His lawyer, who was additionally flying in from Berlin, was not allowed to accompany the opposition chief, she mentioned.

Dwell footage from Russian broadcaster TV Rain confirmed Mr Navalny speaking with dark-uniformed and masked officers at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, then kissing his spouse Yulia earlier than strolling away with them.

The couple was coming back from a five-month keep in Germany, the place he had been recovering from the Novichok poisoning.

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They landed at Sheremetyevo simply after 8pm native time, based on flight knowledge data.

“That is one of the best day prior to now 5 months,” Mr Navalny informed journalists on the airport simply earlier than his arrest.

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“Everyone seems to be asking me if I am scared. I’m not afraid,” he mentioned.

Yulia, spouse of Russian opposition chief Alexei Navalny, is photographed after arriving at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. Russia’s jail service says opposition chief Alexei Navalny has been detained at a Moscow airport after coming back from Germany. The jail service mentioned he was detained Sunday for a number of violations of parole and phrases of a suspended jail sentence and can be held in custody till a court docket decides in his case.(AP Photograph/Alexander Ze (AP)
Alexei Navalny, proper, and his spouse Yulia sit within the aircraft through the flight from Berlin to Moscow , Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. Main Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny flew house to Russia on Sunday after recovering in Germany from his poisoning in August with a nerve agent. (AP Photograph/Mstyslav Chernov) (AP)

“I really feel fully positive strolling in the direction of the border management.

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“I do know that I’ll depart and go house as a result of I am proper and all of the legal circumstances towards me are fabricated.”

A perennial thorn in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aspect, Mr Navalny was positioned on the nation’s federal wished listing throughout his convalescence overseas for violating phrases of probation associated to a years-old fraud case.

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Law enforcement officials stand guard in a terminal of Moscow’s Vnukovo airport earlier than the anticipated arrival of Russian opposition chief Alexei Navalny, exterior Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. Main Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny flew house to Russia on Sunday after recovering in Germany from his poisoning in August with a nerve agent.(AP Photograph/Dmitry Serebryakov) (AP)

Mr Navalany dismisses the case as politically motivated.

“Officers … detained Alexey Navalny, who was sentenced to suspended punishment, and who has been on the wished listing since December 29, 2020 for repeated violations of the probationary interval. Till the court docket ruling, he will likely be in custody, ” mentioned an announcement from the Federal Penitentiary Service, based on TASS.

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After Mr Navalny’s poisoning with military-grade Novichok in August, a joint investigation by CNN and the group Bellingcat implicated the Russian Safety Service (FSB) within the poisoning, piecing collectively how an elite unit on the company adopted Mr Navalny’s crew all through a visit to Siberia in August, the place Mr Navalny was poisoned and fell in poor health on a flight to Moscow.

The investigation additionally discovered that this unit, which included chemical weapons consultants, had adopted Mr Navalny on greater than 30 journeys to and from Moscow since 2017.

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Russia denies involvement in Mr Navalny’s poisoning. However a number of Western officers and Mr Navalny himself have overtly blamed Russia.

Flight diverted to Sheremetyevo

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Mr Navalny had initially been scheduled to land at Vnukovo airport, the place a crowd of lots of of supporters and journalists waited. CNN has been unable to determine why the flight was diverted.

Russian media broadcasts confirmed police arresting a number of allies ready for him at Vnukovo, regardless of temperatures of round -20 levels Celsius (-4 levels F), together with politician and lawyer Lyubov Sobol and Ruslan Shaveddinov, who works for Mr Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Basis.

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Nawalny supporters give interviews to the media exterior of the Terminal 5 of the Airport Berlin Brandenburg (BER) in Schoenefeld, close to Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. Main Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny plans to fly house to Russia on Sunday after recovering in Germany from his poisoning in August with a nerve agent. (AP Photograph/Michael Sohn) (AP)

Navalny’s 2.5-hour flight by Russian provider Pobeda took off from Berlin Brandenburg Airport on Sunday afternoon.

Earlier than departing, he had thanked all the opposite passengers on his flight, based on a stay feed from TV Rain. “Due to you all, I hope we’ll get there positive,” he mentioned. “And I am certain every part will likely be completely nice.”

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In an Instagram publish on Saturday, Mr Navalny thanked Germany, including that Germans had been “good, sympathetic, pleasant folks.”

“Docs and nurses. Bodily therapists and cops. A number of cops. The neighbours who invited us to drink, and people who allowed us to lease. Politicians and legal professionals. Shopkeepers. Journalists.

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Alexei Navalny in hospital in Germany. (Instagram)

“The prosecutors who interrogated me on requests from Russia. Coaches. Academics. And even, as soon as, the Chancellor. I had fairly a large circle of mates right here. And I can solely say an enormous thanks to everybody.”

Mr Navalny is an outspoken critic of the federal government and has been detained by Russian authorities many instances.

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Alexei Navalny
Russian opposition chief Alexei Navalny has been held after touchdown in Russia. (AP/Instagram)

In 2014, he was discovered responsible of fraud after he and his brother Oleg had been accused of embezzling 30 million rubles ($540,000) from a Russian subsidiary of French cosmetics firm Yves Rocher.

Whereas Mr Navalny was given a suspended sentence, his brother was jailed. Mr Navalny maintains that the case is politically motivated.

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FSIN has accused Mr Navalny of violating the phrases of his suspended sentence by failing to point out up for scheduled inspections, and requested that the court docket exchange his suspended sentence with an actual jail time period.

A listening to has been scheduled for January 29. If the FSIN request is granted, Mr Navalny will possible be jailed for 3.5 years.

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Russian President, Vladimir Putin, refuses to acknowledge Navalny as a authentic opponent. (AP)

If Mr Navalny isn’t convicted later in January, he’ll nonetheless face an investigation for a more recent fraud case, by which he and his Anti-Corruption Basis have been accused of misusing donations from supporters.

Mr Putin, who refuses to acknowledge Navalny as a authentic opponent, has described the intensive media protection and investigations into the poisoning as a fabrication by Western intelligence, and mentioned in December that if Russian safety companies had wished to kill Mr Navalny, they “would have completed” the job.
Alexei Navalny
On this picture revealed by Russian opposition chief Alexei Navalny on his Instagram account on September 21, 2020, Navalny and his spouse Yulia pose for a photograph in a hospital in Berlin. (AP/Instagram)

“The scenario with Navalny seems to be like two trains working in the direction of one another at full pace, certain to collide,” mentioned Tatyana Stanovaya, a visiting fellow, additionally on the Carnegie Moscow Middle.

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“There will likely be many victims.”

Assaults on Mr Navalny’s allies have certainly continued.

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Pavel Zelensky, a cameraman with Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Basis, was arrested on Friday and will likely be detained till the tip of February.

In accordance with Agora, a Russian human rights group, Mr Zelensky was accused of extremism for tweets from September, by which he blamed the federal government for journalist Irina Slavina’s self-immolation.

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Earlier than taking her personal life, Slavina blamed strain from Russian regulation enforcement for her choice to self-immolate.

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