The Pobeda plane with Alexei Navalny landed at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. The machine was directed to this port after the authorities unexpectedly decided to close the Vnukovo airport. The services detained people who had come to greet the oppositionist. Among them are Navalny’s brother and lawyer.
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 the Wnukowo airport, but it did not happen. Unexpectedly, the port was closed for arrivals, and the machine with Navalny was redirected to the Moscow Sheremetyevo airport.
Police cars could be seen in the area of the Wnukowo airport, and metal barriers were placed in front of the terminal. According to the Baza channel on the Telegram messenger, about a hundred policemen were supposed to be on duty 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 welcome him at the airport. 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.
Earlier, the police 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 St. Petersburg portal Fontanka reported that due to the arrival of Navalny, the force structures in the main cities of Russia are on high alert. On Sunday, officers from the departments of the Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Security Service (FSB) for combating extremism and units of the National Guard (Rosguard) are working.
However, the law enforcement services were instructed to take aggressive action only when necessary, so as to avoid victims that could become a symbol, reports Fontanka.
The Russian Federal Prison Service (FSIN) has announced that it will do whatever it takes to arrest 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 Putin, are behind the attempt to poison him.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / ALEXEI NAVALNY INSTAGRAM