Monday, 25 January, 2021

Russian judge urged to jail Kremlin critic Navalny in absentia

Navalny was airlifted to Germany for treatment in August after collapsing on a plane in what Germany and other Western nations say was an attempt to murder him with a Novichok nerve agent Russian judge asked to jail Kremlin critic Navalny in abstentia
Deanna Wagner | 14 January, 2021, 18:29

Navalny announced on Wednesday that he plans to fly back to Russian Federation on Sunday for the first time since he was poisoned in August with a Novichok nerve agent, despite the risk of being jailed on his return from Germany.

The Kremlin denies any involvement in the poisoning, but the European Union has imposed entry bans and bank account freezes on several officials.

Navalny spent weeks recovering in a Berlin hospital where he was airlifted after suddenly falling critically ill on a flight in Siberia in August.

"[President Vladimir Putin's] servants are acting as usual by fabricating new criminal cases against me".

On Tuesday, a court database showed authorities had requested that the suspended sentence be cancelled, raising the prospect of a custodial sentence instead.

'But what they do there is not very interesting to me. "Russian Federation is my country, Moscow is my city and I miss it", he wrote.

He said he will fly home from Germany on Sunday.

At the end of December, the Federal Penitentiary Service demanded that 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.

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny is on a national wanted list for allegedly violating the terms of a suspended prison sentence and risks being jailed for three and a half years when he returns to Russian Federation this weekend, one of his lawyers said on Thursday. "The only thing left for Putin to do is to put up a giant billboard on top of the Kremlin saying, 'Alexei, please don't return home under any circumstances!'"

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"Putin is so furious I survived his poisoning that he ordered the FSIN to go to court and demand that my suspended prison sentence be changed to a real one", Navalny tweeted.

Tatiana Stanovaya, head of political analysis firm R.Politik, said the Kremlin had repeatedly raised expectations that Navalny would be arrested and not doing so would risk being seen as weak by conservatives and the security forces.

'The convicted man is not fulfilling all of the obligations placed on him by the court, and is evading the supervision of the Criminal Inspectorate, ' a statement said.

He and his allies have accused Russian authorities of trying to scare him from returning ahead of parliamentary elections due to be held in September.

'But does the [prison service] really care about common sense?

Navalny has been a thorn in the Kremlin's side for more than a decade, exposing what he says is high-level corruption and mobilising protests.

The 44-year-old Kremlin critic wrote on Instagram that he had booked a flight that will arrive in Moscow on Sunday.

The moves raise the prospect that Navalny could face arrest once he returns to Russian Federation.