Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has urged Russians to take to the streets to protest against the government and salvage their future, as the Russian Foreign Ministry has warned Western countries not to interfere in its domestic affairs.

“What are those thieves hiding in a bunker afraid of most? You know it all yourselves – of people taking to the streets,” Navalny said in a video posted on Youtube on Monday, labelling protests as a “political factor that can’t be ignored” and as “the essence of politics.”

“Don’t be afraid, take to the streets. Don’t go out for me, go out for yourself and your future,” he added.

The Kremlin critic was arrested upon his arrival in Moscow from Germany on Sunday night and detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. A surprise court hearing that took place in a courtroom set up at the police station in Khimki outside Moscow on Monday ruled that he will remain in pre-trial detention for 30 days, until February 15. 

“They are afraid so they act like this; urgently, secretly, in such a hurry,” the Kremlin critic also said in his video. 

Navalny is now facing a court decision that could replace his suspended sentence with a real jail term, as he 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. Russia’s Federal Prison Service (FSIN) has been threatened to jail him for allegedly violating the terms of a suspended prison sentence.

His detention has prompted an outcry, with the Foreign Ministers of Germany, Britain, France and Italy calling for Navalny’s release, however Russia’s stance is unrelenting. 

“Respect international law, do not encroach on national legislation of sovereign states and address problems in your own country,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Facebook.

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.



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