Alexey Navalny returns to Russia Police arrest the opposition politician after he arrives in Moscow
What’s happening: Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny flew home to Moscow from Berlin after recuperating from being poisoned with a weapons-grade nerve agent. Navalny had been away for more than four months, and federal prison officials say his absence constitutes a violation of the parole terms specified in a felony conviction in 2014 for embezzlement and money laundering. The Federal Penitentiary Service has asked a court to reinstate his sentence and change his probation to incarceration. The prison agency wants Navalny jailed until the courts hear its lawsuit.
What happens now that Navalny has been arrested? Nobody knows for certain. He could be jailed, pending trial (in multiple felony cases), or released and permitted to return home after an arraignment hearing.
Meduza is wrapping up its liveblog coverage at this time. More detailed reporting on Navalny’s arrest and the public response will come!
The Kremlin comments
Speaking to journalists about Navalny’s arrest, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov indicated that he wasn’t aware of the incident, saying, “Please explain. He was arrested in Germany? I’m not following.”
The three Baltic states have also jointly condemned Navaly’s arrest.
Belarusian opposition politician and former presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has condemned Navalny’s arrest and compared it to the crackdown in her country.
Olga Mikhailova, Navalny’s lawyer, told Current Time that officers from Russia’s Border Control and the Moscow police department carried out the arrest.
Amnesty International has declared Navalny a “prisoner of conscience.”
Citing anonymous sources, Telegram channel Baza reports that senior officials at Aeroflot and Pobeda airlines were warned a day in advance that Navalny’s flight would be rerouted at the last minute. The pilots were also apparently told about the “maneuver” and the plane was reportedly loaded with additional fuel. The plan supposedly called for the plane to circle the Moscow area several times before landing.
As a large crowd chants her name, Yulia Navalnaya is leaving the airport with Kira Yarmysh, her husband’s press secretary.
Remember all those strange reports about pop musician Olga Buzova’s fans assembling at Vnukovo Airport? She says only three people knew about her flight to Moscow and she doesn’t know who these people in the airport were.
Video footage of Navalny’s arrest. In a dispute with the police, Navalny disputes the authorities’ jurisdiction and insists on his right to be accompanied by a legal representative. He is ultimately escorted away without his lawyer.
Navalny has been arrested at Sheremetyevo Airport’s passport control. Police refused to allow his lawyer to accompany him.
The Navalnys, moments before they pass through passport control.
After arriving inside Sheremetyevo Airport, Alexey Navalny tells reporters that he apologizes to his fellow passengers who were inconvenienced by his return to Moscow and the authorities’ apparent decision to reroute his plane, in order to disrupt his welcome party. He repeats that he doesn’t fear arrest and says he expects to return home tonight without any problems, insisting that he’s done nothing illegal. Finishing these remarks, he made his way to passport control.
Navalny and his entourage have now arrived inside Sheremetyevo Airport.
Anti-Corruption Foundation director Ivan Zhdanov reports that the authorities are charging several of the organization’s staff with disobeying police orders at Vnukovo Airport. (Navalny’s group has been designated as a “foreign agent” in Russia.)
Navalny and his wife, along with a phalanx of journalists, have exited the plane and are now shuttling to the arrivals terminal.
Meanwhile, arrests continue at Vnukovo Airport, where Navalny was originally expected to land. According to OVD-Info, officials have taken at least 37 people into custody.
Before landing in Moscow, flight attendants took a moment to grab a photograph with the Navalnys.
Navalny’s plane has landed at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow.
Spokespeople for Pobeda Airlines told the news outlet RBC that Vnukovo Airport unexpectedly closed to new arrivals due to “technical problems,” forcing the company to reroute three Moscow-bound flights, including Navalny’s plane.
Navalny’s flight has been rerouted to Sheremetyevo Airport, according to the arrivals screen at Vnukovo Airport.
At the time of this writing, police at Vnukovo Airport have arrested at least 21 people.
There are currently about 300 people waiting in Vnukovo’s international arrivals area. Police recently arrested a man who started shouting that “Putin is a provocateur and a liar.”
Inside Vnukovo Airport right now.
Arrests continue outside at Vnukovo Airport as the crowd chants “Pozor!” (Disgrace!).
More images from outside Vnukovo Airport, where the police are using force against people without plane tickets who refuse to leave.
Open Media reports that the people at Vnukovo Airport who identified themselves as Olga Buzova’s fans were also quietly photographing activists who gathered inside the airport to greet Navalny. The “Buzova fans” then uploaded these images to a recently created Telegram channel.