Alexey Navalny was arrested during passport control at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. The information provided by the media was confirmed by Russian services. The oppositionist returned to Russia from Berlin on Sunday. The plane he was traveling on was forced to land at an alternate airport after the unexpected decision to close Vnukovo port.
The Federal Prison Service (FSIN) announced that Alexei Navalny was detained during passport control. The services indicated that a warrant had been sent for Navalny. As Dożd TV reported, policemen approached Navalny while he was undergoing passport control. They ordered him to go with them and declined to explain whether he was detained.
The officers did not allow him to be accompanied by his lawyer Olga Mikhailovna, who flew with Navalny from Berlin. Navalny’s wife Julia, as well as his lawyer and spokeswoman, were allowed to enter Russia.
The FSIN said that the opposition activist will remain in custody until the court decides which will determine the so-called preventive measure. The prison service wants the court to convert Navalny from a suspended sentence to a prison sentence. It was not stated when the court decision could be made.
The Baltic states want “restrictions” on Russia
The Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on behalf of the Baltic states that they were calling for “restrictive measures” against Russia. Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis wrote on Twitter on Sunday that “Alexei Navalny’s detention by the Russian authorities is completely unacceptable. We demand his immediate release.”
“The EU should act quickly and if (Navalny) is not fired, we must consider imposing restrictions,” he added.
Navalny returned to Moscow
Aleksei Navalny and his wife Julia boarded the Pobeda plane shortly before the departure of the plane from Berlin. Before taking their seats, they were surrounded by other passengers filming them with their cell phones, including numerous journalists. There was applause and questions in Russian and English. Questioned whether he felt like a hero, Navalny replied that he felt “a Russian citizen who has every right to return home.” He also said that he is not afraid to return to Russia – reports the MBChMedia channel.
Before Navalny boarded the plane, a passenger was led out of the plane and he began to curse and call the staff. Independent media in Russia reported that the departure from Berlin was delayed as a result.
The landing was to take place at 7.20 pm local time (5.20 pm in Poland) at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport, but it did not happen. Unexpectedly, the port was closed to arrivals, and the machine with Navalny was redirected to the Moscow-Sheremetyevo airport.
Police cars were visible in the Wnukowo area, and metal barriers were set in front of the terminal. According to the base channel, about a hundred policemen were supposed to be on duty on the Telegram messenger at the airport. The international arrivals area – even before the airport was closed – was separated from the domestic flights area and the main part of the terminal.
Navalny’s supporters detained by the police
The opposition’s associates called on his supporters to greet him upon arrival. On Friday, Moscow’s prosecutor’s office warned of a “public event” at Vnukovo airport taking place without permission. The organization of this “event” and participation in it entail “liability provided for by law” – announced the prosecutor’s office.
On Sunday, an activist, Dmitry Beskrovayny, was detained at the Moscow airport. The reasons for the detention are unknown. The police took the activist in an unknown direction.
The officers also detained Navalny’s brother, Oleg, and the lawyer Lubov Sobol, an activist Konstantin Kotov, who cooperated with Navalny, and an employee of the Foundation for Combating Corruption, Ruslan Shaveddinov, established by the opposition activist.
In total, the police detained 37 people in Moscow due to Navalny’s arrival, mainly at the Vnukovo airport, the OWD-Info portal, which monitors arrests in Russia, reported.
Earlier, the police also detained Navalny’s supporters in St. Petersburg. They were going to go to Moscow by train to greet the opposition activist after returning home.
High alert state
The Saint Petersburg website Fontanka reported that due to the arrival of Navalny, force structures in major Russian cities are on high alert, officers from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Federal Security Service (FSB) departments for combating extremism and units of the National Guard (Rosguard) are working despite Sunday.
However, the law enforcement services were instructed to act aggressively only when necessary, so as to avoid victims that could become a symbol, the Fontanka portal claimed.
The Russian Federal Prison Service (FSIN) announced even before the opposition’s arrival in Moscow that it would do everything to detain Navalny. Before The FSIN requested the court to suspend the sentence to which Navalny was sentenced in 2014 and to have the opposition serve his sentence in a penal colony.
Alexei Navalny was in Germany in August 2020, when at the request of his family, he was taken from a hospital in Omsk, Siberia. He was there after he lost consciousness and fell into a coma on a plane flying from Tomsk to Moscow. After an emergency landing, he was hospitalized in Omsk. The German authorities recognized that an attempt was made to poison him with a highly toxic drug such as novichok, developed back in the USSR.
The opposition activist believes that the Russian authorities, including President Vladimir Putin, are behind the attempt to poison him.
Main photo source: Reuters