- Navalny was returning for the first time since a poisoning attempt on 20 August.
- Earlier, the politician had told reporters that “this is the best time in the last five months”, after having left Berlin for Moscow, says the Reuters agency. "Finally, I'm going to my hometown."
- The police earlier made several arrests among the crowd waiting for the opponent at the airport, chanting "Russia will be free!" and “Navalny! Navalny! ”
Alexei Navalny, a critic of the poisoned Kremlin in August last year, was arrested after landing this Sunday at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow. Before, his flight had been diverted from Vnukovo airport, also in the capital, where he should have landed and where hundreds of his supporters were eagerly waiting to welcome him back home.
The police earlier made several arrests among the crowd waiting for the opponent at the airport, chanting “Russia will be free!” and “Navalny! Navalny! ” The idea of diverting the flight from Pobeda, owned by the state airline Aeroflot, was an apparent effort by the authorities to prevent him from speaking to supporters or journalists upon landing.
Upon arrival in Sheremetyevo, Navalny was denied entry to Russia and was arrested, being in a “no-man’s-land”, His wife Yulia, his spokesman, and his lawyer, with whom he traveled, stayed on the Russian side of the airport.
Navalny was returning for the first time since a poisoning attempt on 20 August: he felt bad during a flight back to Moscow and was taken to a hospital in Omsk, Siberia. After intense efforts and in the face of an initial refusal from the hospital where he was admitted, he was transferred to the Charité Hospital in Berlin. He was discharged a month later.
The doctors who treated him published an article in The Lancet magazine showing how he was poisoned with the agent novichok, already used in the case of ex-double spy Sergei Skripal, poisoned in 2018. It is an agent that is only produced in Russia. ”Severe poisoning with a cholinesterase inhibitor was subsequently diagnosed.” the report read in part.
Earlier, the politician had told reporters that “this is the best time in the last five months”, after having left Berlin for Moscow, says the Reuters agency. “Finally, I’m going to my hometown.”
The politician had also stated that he did not believe in the possibility of being arrested. “What do I need to be afraid of? What bad thing can happen to me in Russia?” he added. “I feel like a citizen of Russia who has every right to return,”
Navalny announced the decision to return to Russia on Wednesday. A day later, Russia’s prison service said it would do anything to arrest him as soon as he returned, on charges of violating the terms of a suspended prison sentence for fraud, in a 2014 case that Navalny says is a fabrication against him.
It was not clear why he was arrested on Sunday.
The poisoning attempt occurred during a trip to Siberia in which Navalny and his team were preparing the campaign for the September elections, which the opponent hoped to run for, although he faced several other lawsuits seen as having precisely the objective of preventing him.