Alexei Navalny Arrested Upon Return to Russia

By Dima Kulakov

On January 17, Alexei Navalny, Russian opposition leader, was arrested at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow. His arrest was no surprise and came after his return from Germany, where he had been for five months recovering from a failed poisoning allegedly carried out by Russian agents; as mentioned in my previous article on Navalny, Russia’s prison service claims that he “violated parole terms from a suspended sentence on a 2014 embezzlement conviction.” This conviction was ruled “prejudicial” by the European Court of Human Rights, as Navalny “had been deprived of a fair trial.”

As Russia nears parliamentary elections, this arrest raises tensions, and Navalny’s organization is likely going to try to defeat pro-Kremlin candidates. Navalny’s arrest hinders this, of course, as he himself will not be able to participate in the elections.

Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth tweeted his thoughts on the situation, writing “This is a real act of bravery for Alexei Navalny to return to Russia, given that government agents already tried to kill him once…But he understandably wants to be part of the pro-democracy movement in Russia, not a dissident in exile.”

Foreign Policy Canada tweeted “Canada is deeply concerned as @navalny is again targeted by Russian authorities and detained upon arrival in #Russia. The Russian government must ensure his safety and answer the questions around his poisoning. The world is watching.”

On the 18th, a Russian judge sentenced Navalny to “pre-trial detention for 30 days…for violating the terms of a suspended jail sentence,” during a court hearing help in a police station, where no public was allowed.