Russia prison agency warns Navalny he faces immediate arrest


The Russian Prison Service said Thursday that top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny is at risk of immediate arrest upon his return from Germany.

Navalny, who was recovering in Germany after poisoning in August with a nerve agent he blamed on the Kremlin, said he would return home on Sunday. He accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of now trying to dissuade him from returning home under threat of arrest. 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 in a statement Thursday that it issued an arrest warrant for Navalny at the end of December after he failed to show up to his office. The prison service, which asked a Moscow court to turn Navalny’s 3 1/2 year conditional sentence into a real one, noted that he was “obliged to take all necessary measures to detain Navalny pending the court decision ”.

In a parallel move just before the New Year, Russia’s leading investigative agency also opened a new criminal case against Navalny for large-scale fraud. related to his alleged mismanagement of $ 5 million in private donations to his Anti-Corruption Foundation and other organizations. Navalny also dismissed the accusations as grossly fabricated.

Navalny, Putin’s most visible critic who had received numerous short prison terms in recent years, fell into a coma aboard a domestic flight from Siberia to Moscow on August 20. He was transferred from a hospital in Siberia to a hospital in Berlin. 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 the lack of evidence 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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