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Kremlin Critic Navalny Says He Will Return to Russia on Sunday

Kremlin Critic Navalny Says He Will Return to Russia on Sunday

Wednesday, 13 January, 2021 - 08:45
Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny takes part in a rally in Moscow, Russia, February 29, 2020. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said on Wednesday he would fly back to Russia on Jan. 17 from Germany where he has been convalescing after being poisoned.

Navalny, one of President Vladimir Putin's leading critics, was airlifted to Germany for treatment in August after collapsing on a plane in what Germany and other Western nations say was an attempt to murder him with a Novichok nerve agent.

Navalny wrote on Instagram that he had probably almost fully recovered his health now and said it was time to return to Russia despite various legal threats hanging over him.

According to court documents revealed on Tuesday, a Russian judge was asked to jail Navalny in absentia for having allegedly broken the terms of a suspended sentence he had been serving and for other infractions.

Russia’s Federal Prison Service (FSIN) last month ordered him to immediately fly back from Germany, where he is convalescing, and report at a Moscow office or be jailed if he failed to return in time.

It accused him of flouting a suspended sentence he had been serving over a conviction dating from 2014, and of evading the supervision of Russia’s criminal inspection authority. Navalny said the original conviction was politically-motivated.

On Tuesday, a court database showed authorities had requested that the suspended sentence be canceled, raising the prospect of a custodial sentence instead.

“Putin is so furious I survived his poisoning that he ordered the FSIN to go to court and demand that my suspended prison sentence be changed to a real one,” Navalny tweeted.

His spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh accused Russian authorities of trying to scare Navalny into not returning to Russia, something he has said he intends to do ahead of parliamentary elections due in September next year.

Russia has said it has seen no evidence he was poisoned and has denied trying to harm him. The Kremlin has said Navalny is free to return to Russia at any time like any other Russian citizen.

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