Russian opposition leader, Alexey Navalny, was arrested by police in Moscow on Sunday, January 17, moments after his return to the country five months after alleging the Russian government tried killing him by poisoning him with the lethal nerve agent Novichok.
Navalny was taken away by police officers without explanation, his spokesperson Kira Yarmysh tweeted.
His lawyer, who came in from Berlin, was not allowed to accompany the opposition leader, she said.
Navalny has been a huge critic and public thorn in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s side, with the international community concerned over his safety in the country.
After his poisoning with military-grade Novichok in August, a joint investigation by CNN and the group Bellingcat implicated the Russian Security Service (FSB) in the poisoning, as the investigation showed how an elite unit at the secret agency followed Navalny’s team throughout a trip to Siberia, where Navalny was poisoned and fell ill on a flight to Moscow.
The investigation also found that this unit, which included chemical weapons experts, had followed Navalny on more than 30 trips to and from Moscow since 2017.
Russia completely denies involvement in Navalny’s poisoning despite the fact that Russia is the only country that still products and posseses Novichok, a military grade nerve agent that paralyzes and ultimately kills a person that ingests it.
Putin said in December that if Russian security services had wanted to kill Navalny, they “would have finished” the job.
Navalny was placed on the country’s federal wanted list last month for violating terms of probation related to an old fraud case, which Navalny claims is Putin’s way of getting rid of him.
A statement on Sunday from the Federal Penitentiary Service confirmed Navalny had been detained, and said he would remain in custody until a court hearing later this January, according to TASS.
Live footage from Russian broadcaster TV Rain showed Navalny talking with dark-uniformed and masked officers at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, then kissing his wife Yulia before walking away with them.