Kremlin Critic Alexei Navalny Detained in Russia

Photo: Alexei Navalny / Instagram
Photo: Alexei Navalny / Instagram

Alexei Navalny said that he is not afraid because all the criminal cases against him are fabricated.

By Rakesh Raman

Russian police detained a fierce Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on Sunday (January 17) when he returned home for the first time since his poisoning in August last year.

Despite warnings that he will be detained by the Russian authorities, Navalny came back from Berlin where he was recuperating after the poisoning incident.

He posted an article on Twitter from The New York Times that said “Aleksei Navalny was detained in Moscow after returning for the first time since his poisoning. The Kremlin had promised to detain him upon arrival.” Navalny, 44, said that he is not afraid because all the criminal cases against him are fabricated.

In December, he had claimed that secret agents of Russia’s Federal Security Service (the FSB) were behind his poisoning. Navalny – who is also an anti-corruption activist – released a video on December 21, 2020 in which he said, “I called my killer. He confessed everything.”

Navalny claims that before the publication of the investigation, which said that a group of FSB officers were behind his poisoning, he spoke on the phone with one of them – Konstantin Kudryavtsev – and he actually confirmed that he intended to kill Navalny.

Navalny’s assertion came close on the heels of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim that if Russian special services had wanted to kill Navalny, they would have “finished it.”

Putin was addressing his annual press conference on December 17, 2020 following an investigation by the investigative group Bellingcat and CNN, which – according to CNN – uncovered evidence that Russia’s FSB had formed an elite team specializing in nerve agents that trailed Navalny for years.

According to the CNN report, Putin claimed without evidence that Navalny is being supported by the U.S. intelligence services.

Navalny said he had called the FSB security agents identified in the report, adding that all of them refused to talk except the man he identified as Kudryavtsev.

Citing his recorded conversation with Kudryavtsev, Navalny revealed that the attacker had placed the poison along the inner seams of a pair of Navalny’s underwear. However, the state agency has dismissed his charges as baseless.

FEARS OF ELECTION FRAUD IN RUSSIA

Of late, Navalny urged the European Union (EU) to reject the results of Russia’s parliamentary election of 2021 if any candidates are blocked from taking part in the election. He has also called on the EU to impose sanctions on oligarchs close to Putin.

Navalny described September’s election for Russia’s lower house of parliament as a crucial event and feared that some vote-rigging may happen to help Putin win again fraudulently.

In 2018, Putin had won the presidential election to lead Russia for his second 6-year term. Putin has ruled the country as either President or Prime Minister since 1999. In the 2018 election, according to official results, he got more than 76% of the votes with an increase of 12% from his 2012 performance.

Putin’s nearest competitor Pavel Grudinin received just 12% of total votes and Navalny, who was planning to challenge Putin in the election, was barred from the race.

Now, reports suggest that Putin may soon quit amid growing concerns over his health. The Sun reports that a recent footage of Putin, 68, showed that he may be suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Earlier, in July 2020, Putin had held a dubious poll to accept constitutional changes that allowed him to stay in power until 2036. However, Navalny refused to accept the results of the poll, saying that it was an illegitimate vote designed to legalize Putin’s presidency for life.

Navalny had added that with the help of his supporters he will hold “street protests” against Putin. But in August Navalny was allegedly poisoned by Russia.

In November, Russian police had raided the Moscow offices of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation. According to a Reuters report, the state bailiffs said a criminal investigation had been opened against the Foundation director.

But Navalny says he is not scared. In fact, when the plane was about to take off on Sunday (January 17), Navalny posted a video on Instagram, in which his wife Yulia said sarcastically in Russian, “Bring us some vodka, boy. We’re flying home.”

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.

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