Navalny plans to return to Russia after recovery in Germany

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BERLIN (AP) – Top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny plans to return to Russia on Sunday after recovering in Germany from his poisoning in August with a nerve agent.

Navalny said on Wednesday that he would return, despite threats from Russian authorities to put him behind bars again. He should fly from Berlin to Moscow. On Thursday, the Russian prison service said he was in danger of being arrested immediately upon his return.

Navalny, who blamed the Kremlin for his poisoning, accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of now trying to dissuade him from returning home with new legal demands. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied its role in poisoning the leader of the opposition.

At the end of December, the Federal Penitentiary Service, or FSIN, warned Navalny that he risked jail time if he did not immediately report to his office in accordance with the terms of the suspended sentence and the probation he had received for a conviction in 2014 on embezzlement and money laundering charges which he dismissed as politically motivated. The European Court of Human Rights has declared his conviction unlawful.

The FSIN said Thursday it issued an arrest warrant for Navalny after he failed to show up to his office. The prison service, which has asked a Moscow court to turn Navalny’s 3.5-year conditional sentence into a real one, said it was “obliged to take all necessary measures to detain Navalny pending the decision. court.

Navalny fell into a coma while on a domestic flight from Siberia to Moscow on August 20. He was transferred from a hospital in Siberia to a hospital in Berlin two days later.

Laboratories in Germany, France and Sweden, as well as tests by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, established that he had been exposed to a Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent.

Russian authorities have insisted that doctors who treated Navalny in Siberia before it was airlifted to Germany found no trace of the poison and challenged German authorities to provide proof of its poisoning. They refused to open a full-fledged criminal investigation, citing a lack of evidence that Navalny had been poisoned.

Last month, Navalny released the recording of a phone call he said he made to a man he described as a suspected member of a group of Federal Security Service, or FSB, agents. who allegedly poisoned him in August, then tried to cover him up. to the top. The FSB called the recording false.

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