Kremlin critic Navalny ready to return to Russia despite threats of arrest

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Senior Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has said he plans to return home to Russia next weekend despite threats from authorities to put him behind bars again.

Navalny, who was recovering in Germany after poisoning in August with a nerve agent he blamed on the Kremlin, accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of now trying to dissuade him from returning home with further requests legal. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied its role in poisoning the leader of the opposition.

“Putin stamps his feet and demands that I do everything so that I do not come home,” Navalny said Wednesday, announcing his return on Instagram. “The people who tried to kill me were offended because I survived and now they are threatening to put me behind bars.

He said he would return from Germany on Sunday.

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At the end of December, the Federal Penitentiary Service warned Navalny that he risked a real prison sentence if he did not report to his office immediately under the terms of a suspended sentence he received for a conviction in 2014. for embezzlement and money. money laundering which he dismissed as politically motivated. The European Court of Human Rights has declared his conviction unlawful.

In a parallel move just before New Year’s Eve, Russia’s leading investigative agency also opened a new criminal case against Navalny for large-scale fraud related to his alleged mismanagement of $ 5 million in private donations to his Anti- corruption and other organizations. Navalny also dismissed the accusations as grossly fabricated.

“They are doing anything to scare me,” Navalny said in her Instagram video. “The only thing left for Putin to do is place a giant billboard on top of the Kremlin saying, ‘Alexei, please don’t go home under any circumstances! “

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German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said Berlin had “taken note” of reports of Navalny’s plans, but did not answer a question about the potential risk he faces.

“I can only add that Mr Navalny is free to make his decision and that we are happy that he has recovered from the attack which has been carried out against him,” said the spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry. , Maria Adebahr.

Navalny fell into a coma while on a domestic flight from Siberia to Moscow on August 20. He was transferred from a hospital in Siberia to a hospital in Berlin two days later.

Laboratories in Germany, France and Sweden, as well as tests by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, established that he had been exposed to a Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent.

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Russian authorities have insisted that doctors who treated Navalny in Siberia before it was airlifted to Germany found no trace of the poison and challenged German authorities to provide proof of its poisoning. They refused to open a full-fledged criminal investigation, citing the lack of evidence Navalny had been poisoned.

Last month, Navalny released the recording of a phone call he said he made to a man he described as a suspected member of a group of Federal Security Service, or FSB, officers. who allegedly poisoned him in August, then tried to cover him up. to the top.

The FSB called the recording false.

(TBEN)

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