Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny was arrested at Sheremetyevo Airport near Moscow. The Russian prison service had already announced that he would be arrested immediately upon arriving at another airport near the capital, Vnukovo, where he would arrive first.
Many supporters had gathered there in the arrivals hall, but in the course of the afternoon the police cleared the hall. A number of people have been arrested, including politician Lyubov Sobol and Navalnys brother.
Navalnys flight was diverted to Sheremetyevo, where Navalny made a statement shortly after arrival. “Im glad to be back,” he said. The diverting of his flight and the arrest of his supporters show, as far as he is concerned, “once again what is happening in Russia.”
Subsequently, the opposition leader was taken, allegedly without his lawyer.
Look here how Navalny was arrested:
What moved Navalny to return to Russia anyway, with the real chance that he would be arrested? Correspondent David Jan Godfroid: “That is due to the character structure of that man. He says he has the truth on his side and does not let himself be silenced. Russia is his home, he says.”
There is no one within the Russian opposition who gets people out on the streets as massively as Navalny says. “The authorities want to avoid that at all costs. If you cut off the head of the opposition, of course, that saves a lot.”
He expects Navalny to appear before a judge shortly for a three-and-a-half year suspended imprisonment imposed on him in 2014.
There is a chance that it will be converted into an unconditional sentence, because Navalny was in Berlin at the time when he had to report from the prison service in Moscow. “And more punishments are hanging over him,” Godfroid knows. “If the regime wants to lock him up for ten years, so do they. History has shown that.”
Before leaving, Navalny shared a tweet with a photo of President Putin, former Prime Minister Medvedev and the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, who seemingly look at a plane, with the text: “When you wait with your friends for the plane to land.”
Navalny was poisoned in August with the nerve gas novitsjok. He was unwell during a flight and after an emergency stop hospitalized in Omsk, Siberia. After that, he was brought to Germany at the request of his family to be treated there. Yet Navalny said that his departure from Russia would be only temporary. “Russia is my country, Moscow is my city, I miss them.”
The responsibility of the poisoning was never claimed, but Navalny said in December that he had elicited a confession from a Russian secret service agent by pretending to be his superior in a telephone call.