Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been detained by officers of the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service upon his arrival to Moscow from Germany, where he has been convalescing after being poisoned with Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent. 

The detention of the Kremlin critic at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport has prompted an outcry by US and EU officials who called for his immediate release. 

“I condemn the detention of Alexei Navalny by the Russian authorities. They must immediately release him and ensure his safety,” the Commission’s chief, Ursula von der Leyen wrote in a Twitter on Monday morning. 

She added that the “detention of political opponents is against Russia’s international commitments,” whilst reiterating the call for a “thorough and independent” investigation on the poisoning attack on the Kremlin critic.

Since he was poisoned in August, Navalny has been in Germany, where he received treatment in Berlin Charite Hospital. While he has blamed on the Kremlin, Russia has denied allegations, citing that the Kremlin critic is “enjoying the support of the US special services” and that if Russia’s special services had wanted to kill him, they would have “finished” the job.

Russia’s Federal Prison Service (FSIN) has been threatened to jail him for allegedly violating the terms of a suspended prison sentence, as Navalny is serving out a suspended three-and-a-half-year prison term over the so-called “Yves Rocher” theft case, which he sees as politically-motivated. Earlier in January, Russian prison authorities sent an official request to a Moscow court asking to replace his suspended sentence with a real jail term.

In a video released by his aide, Ilya Yashin, Navalny is heard asking for his lawyer to be given access to him, and according to Yashin, police have denied the request. 


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