Kremlin Critic Alexey Navalny Boards Plan Back to Russia

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  • Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “Kremlin Critic Alexey Navalny Boards Plan Back to Russia” – below is their description.

    Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny left Germany on a flight home, where the outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin may face arrest and years in prison.

    Navalny, 44, whom Russian authorities have vowed to detain as soon as they can, departed Berlin by plane on Sunday and is due to arrive in Moscow at about 7 p.m. local time. “We’re flying home” he wrote on instagram, posting a video of himself and his wife on the plane.

    relates to Kremlin Critic Navalny Braves Arrest With Return From Berlin

    Alexey Navalny with his wife flying back to Moscow, Jan 17.Source: Instagram

    The Kremlin critic, whose anti-corruption exposes and success in galvanizing anti-government votes have increasingly needled the authorities, had been recovering in Germany from a nerve-agent attack he and Western governments blamed on Putin.

    Navalny called on supporters to meet him at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport in an Instagram video post Wednesday. More than 2,000 people said on Facebook they would attend an event to meet him there.

    Navalny spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh shared on social media photos of barriers erected at the airport and queues of buses and police vehicles waiting outside. Police detained one activist at the airport without saying why, according to monitoring organization OVD-Info.

    The expected move to imprison the most prominent opponent of the Russian president would mark the biggest crackdown in recent years. Coming days before U.S. President-elect Joe Biden takes office, it could trigger an immediate clash with the new Democratic administration.

    Navalny’s return despite his apparently certain incarceration comes as political tensions are rising ahead of parliamentary elections this autumn and support for the Kremlin falters amid the coronavirus downturn. Putin, 68, whose two-decade rule makes him the longest-serving leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, last year overturned term limits, allowing him to stay in power until 2036. Speculation that he may step down far sooner is building up in the elite.

    ‘Symbol of Resistance’

    “There were only two choices for Navalny — to stay in Germany or come home. If he remained an émigré, in Russia people would quickly lose interest in him,” said Alexei Makarkin, deputy director of the Center for Political Technologies in Moscow. “His calculation is he’ll become a symbol of resistance behind bars and a big risk for Putin.”

    Russia’s penitentiary service issued an arrest warrant for Navalny after accusing him of violating the conditions of a 3 1/2 year suspended fraud sentence by not appearing in person for regular summons. It asked a Moscow court on Jan. 11 to replace it with a prison term, though no hearing has yet been set. The opposition politician also potentially faces separate charges of embezzlement punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

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