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Kremlin opponent Navalny says he will return to Russia despite threats

Alexei Navalny has been convalescing in Germany after an August poisoning with a nerve agent that he has blamed on the Kremlin.

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Alexei Navalny (Navalny instagram account via AP)

Alexei Navalny (Navalny instagram account via AP)

Alexei Navalny (Navalny instagram account via AP)

Leading Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has said he will go home to Russia at the weekend despite the prison service’s latest motion to put him behind bars for allegedly breaching the terms of his suspended sentence and probation.

Mr Navalny has been convalescing in Germany after an August poisoning with a nerve agent that he has blamed on the Kremlin.

He said Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to deter him from returning home with new legal motions.

Putin is stamping his feet demanding to do everything so that that I don't return homeAlexei Navalny

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied a role in the opposition leader’s poisoning.

“Putin is stamping his feet demanding to do everything so that that I don’t return home,” Mr Navalny said on Instagram, pointing at the Federal Penitentiary Service’s appeal to court to replace his suspended sentence with a custodial one.

He said he will fly home from Germany on Sunday.

At the end of December, the Federal Penitentiary Service demanded that Mr Navalny report to its office in line with the terms of a suspended sentence he received for a 2014 conviction on charges of embezzlement and money laundering that he rejected as politically motivated.

The service warned that he faced prison time if he failed to appear.

Mr Navalny says his suspended sentence ended on December 30, and noted the European Court for Human Rights had ruled that his 2014 conviction was unlawful.

He fell into a coma on August 20 while aboard a domestic flight from Siberia to Moscow. He was transferred from a hospital in Siberia to one in Berlin two days later.

Labs in Germany, France and Sweden, and tests by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, established he was exposed to a Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent.

Russian authorities insisted that doctors who treated Mr Navalny in Siberia before he was airlifted to Germany found no trace of poison and have challenged German officials to provide proof of his poisoning.

They refused to open a full criminal inquiry, citing the lack of evidence that Mr Navalny was poisoned.

Last month, he released the recording of a phone call he said he made to a man he described as an alleged member of a group of officers of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, who purportedly poisoned him in August and then tried to cover it up.

The FSB dismissed the recording as fake.

PA


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