Russian opposition leader, Alexey Navalny has announced that he plans to return to Russia on Sunday from Germany, where he has been recovering after being allegedly poisoned by the Russian state.
Navalny was poisoned with the lethal toxin Novichok in August while in Siberia and nearly died. He accused Putin of being responsible for the murder attempt on his life but the Kremlin has repeatedly denied any involvement.
He is currently in Germany, after receiving treatment at Berlin’s Charite clinic.
Recent reporting from Bellingcat and CNN revealed that Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) had formed an elite team specializing in nerve agents that followed Navalny for years. Phone and travel records suggest that the unit followed Navalny to at least 17 cities since 2017.
A seperate CNN-Bellingcat report featured a phone call in which Navalny duped one of the agents into revealing that he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok applied to his underwear.
In 2014, Navalny was found guilty of fraud after he and his brother Oleg were accused of embezzling 30 million rubles ($540,000) from a Russian subsidiary of French cosmetics company Yves Rocher. Alexey Navalny was given a suspended sentence and his brother was sentenced to a prison term.
Russia launched a new fraud accusation and jail threat against Navalny at the end of 2020, increasing pressure on him.
On Monday, Russian prison authorities sent an official request to a court asking to replace his suspended sentence in a years-old case with a real jail term.
The Russian Federal Penitentiary Service said that by staying in Germany Navalny was violating the terms of his suspended sentence in the so-called Yves Rocher case, which Navalny believes is politically motivated.
Despite the threat to his life, Navalny took to Instagram on Wednesday, January 13, to reveal that he purchased a plane ticket to Russia after realizing that “he is almost healthy and can finally come back home.”
“There was never a question for me whether to return or not, never. Just because I didn’t leave. I ended up in Germany, having arrived there in an intensive care box. On January 17, Sunday, I will return home on Pobeda airline flight. Meet me,” Navalny tweeted on Wednesday morning.
In the video address, Navalny said new criminal cases brought against him in Russia were “demonstratively fabricated” and an attempt to prevent him coming back to his home country.
Navalny dismissed the charges against him.
“I’ve survived. And now Putin, who gave the order to murder me, screeches all over his bunker and tells his servants to do everything so that I do not return. The servants act as per usual: they fabricate new criminal cases against me,” Navalny said in Wednesday’s Instagram video.
“They are doing everything to scare me. But what they are doing there is not of much interest to me. Russia is my country, Moscow is my city, I miss them,” he added.