Police detain Kremlin critic Navalny on return to Russia


Opposition figure Alexey Navalny detained at passport control after flying back to Russia from Germany.

Russian police detained Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny at passport control after he flew home to Russia, his lawyer, the prison service and Reuters witnesses said.

It was the first time Navalny has been back home since he was poisoned last summer. His plane was diverted on Sunday to another Moscow airport at the last minute in an apparent effort by authorities to thwart journalists and supporters greeting him.

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Navalny was detained when he showed his passport to border guards before formally entering Russia, Reuters witnesses said. His wife, Yulia, his spokeswoman and his lawyer were allowed to enter Russia.

The prison service said he was detained for multiple violations of parole and terms of a suspended prison sentence and would be held in custody until a court makes a decision in his case.

But the Russian capital’s prison service had said beforehand it would do everything to arrest him once he returned, accusing him of flouting the terms of a suspended prison sentence for embezzlement, a 2014 case he says was trumped up.

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Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh confirmed he had been detained, saying on Twitter: “Alexei was taken away by police officers at the border. With no explanation given.”

His plane had been meant to arrive at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport, but was diverted to land at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport instead. The flight was operated by Russian airline Pobeda, owned by state-controlled Aeroflot.

Navalny was flown to Berlin in August last year for emergency medical treatment after being poisoned with what German tests showed was a Novichok nerve agent.

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