The Russian opposition politician was arrested on arrival at Moscow Airport. The next 48 hours will decide his fate, say his supporters.
Alexei Navalny said he was happy to be at home after arriving at Moscow Airport. And he’s not afraid. «I’m right. All allegations against me are fabricated. I am not afraid. And now we’re going to passport control. ”
And there they are: four or five men dressed in dark uniforms can be seen on the broadcast of the opposition television channel “Doschd”, apparently they belong to the transport police. They argue back and forth with Navalny, then he turns around, a kiss for his wife and he’s gone. The lawyer shouts afterwards that she has all the papers with her, but nobody listens to her.
Many Russian observers were expecting the arrest. And probably also Navalny himself, who had recovered from his poisoning with the neurotoxin Novitschok in Germany. The Russian judiciary had stated that he had violated the conditions imposed on him because of his suspended sentence. He would have to be arrested.
“I’m not afraid either”
How serious the situation is remains unclear at first. His wife and lawyer sit on a bench at passport control. But then they apparently get new information and Julija Nawalnaya struggles through the crowd with her head down. “I’m not afraid either,” she says before getting into the taxi. “And I call on you not to be afraid either.” Navalny himself stays at the airport.
Everything had sounded so simple: he was returning to Moscow, Navalny said last week, he was healthy again. He will return home on Sunday with the airline Pobeda (Sieg). The German authorities piloted him directly into the plane in Berlin, where a large group of journalists received him, so that he had to fight his way into row 13.
He should have landed at half past seven Moscow time, at Vnukowo airport in the south of the capital, where high-ranking state guests are also received. When he announced he had invited his followers to welcome him there. Hundreds came. And probably almost as many police officers. Arrests were reported throughout the afternoon and 53 had been arrested, the authorities said in the evening.
“Julia, here’s a bunch of you.” How Yulia Navalnaya was met at the airport. Video: The Insider pic.twitter.com/YapLH8JXzj
— The Insider (@the_ins_ru) January 17, 2021
Getting there is difficult even on a normal day. Even so, the lobby was full of people. The next 48 hours will be decisive for his fate and that of the country, say his supporters.
In Russia, opinions are divided about the poisoning of the opposition leader. Many Russians do not believe that he was poisoned by the Kremlin. His illness caused little public reaction. The next few days will show how far behind Navalny the Russians are. And how serious the Kremlin is in bringing President Putin’s most prominent critic to the prison camp.