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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

(Newser) – 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.

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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." (Read more Alexei Navalny stories.)

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