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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny plans to return to Russia on Sunday: NPR



Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, shown here at a 2019 demonstration in Moscow, says he plans to return to Russia.

Dmitri Lovetsky / AP


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Dmitri Lovetsky / AP

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, shown here at a 2019 demonstration in Moscow, says he plans to return to Russia.

Dmitri Lovetsky / AP

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has announced plans to return to Russia on Sunday from Germany, where he has spent months recovering from poisoning.

In an Instagram post Wednesday, he said he bought a plane ticket to Russia that morning after feeling “almost healthy enough to get home.”

“There was never a question for me whether I should return or not, never,” Navalny said on Twitter. “I ended up in Germany when I arrived there in an intensive care unit. On January 17, Sunday, I return home with the airline Pobeda.”

Navalny was flown to Berlin in a coma after being poisoned while on a trip to Siberia in August. Tests by health authorities in Europe later revealed that he had been poisoned by a variant of the Soviet era nerve agent Novichok. Navalny has recovered from extensive nerve damage since doctors removed him from his medically induced coma in September.

In recent weeks, Navalny said the Bellingcat investigation team recently revealed evidence that Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) was behind his poisoning. A report contained a phone call in which Navalny tricked one of the alleged agents into revealing that the team had used Novichok in the seams of his underwear. The Kremlin has denied involvement in Navalny’s poisoning.

Navalny’s announcement has surprised his supporters, who are worried he will be jailed on arrival in Russia. On Monday, the Russian Federal Prison Service sent an official request to a court asking to replace Navalny’s conditional sentence in a 6-year case with a new prison, saying that by staying in Germany, Navalny has violated the terms of the sentence.

In 2014, a Russian court found Navalny guilty of fraud after he and his brother were accused of embezzling the equivalent of half a million dollars from a Russian subsidiary of the French cosmetics company Yves Rocher.

Navalny was given a suspended sentence and his brother was sentenced to prison. Russia launched a new allegation of fraud and threat of imprisonment against him last month for allegedly abusing supporters’ donations and using them “for private purposes.”

In a video address, Navalny said new criminal cases brought against him are politically motivated and “demonstratively fabricated.”




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