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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny arrested upon returning to Moscow

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was arrested after arriving in Moscow on Sunday amid threats from the government.

In December, Russia’s prison service gave the Kremlin critic a Dec. 29 deadline for returning to Moscow from Germany. If he returned after the deadline, Navalny would be jailed.

According to the prison service, Navalny was in violation of the terms of a suspended prison sentence he is serving over a 2014 conviction and of evading the supervision of Russia’s criminal inspection authority. Navalny, 44, is currently serving out a suspended 3.5-year prison term over a theft case he claims was politically motivated. His probation period expired on Dec. 30.

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Navalny revealed he would be returning to Russia last Wednesday and Moscow’s prison service said they would arrest him upon his return, according to Reuters.

“This is the best moment in the last five months,” he told reporters on the plane. “I feel great. Finally, I’m returning to my home town.”

Navalny was accompanied by his wife, lawyer, and spokesperson on the flight.

In an alleged effort by authorities to prevent supporters from greeting him, the flight was diverted to a separate Moscow airport at the last minute. Originally meant to land at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport, the flight landed at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.

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