Russian prison officials say they are ‘obliged’ to arrest Navalny upon his return to Moscow
In a statement released on Thursday, January 14, Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) said it is “obliged take all actions to arrest” opposition figure Alexey Navalny upon his return to Russia, pending a court decision on revoking his probation and replacing it with a prison sentence.
According to the FSIN, Navalny “systematically and repeatedly violated” the terms of his probation in 2020 and failed to show up at the department for registration at least six times between January and August.
The prison authorities added that they didn’t see Navalny at all between mid-August and the end of December of last year. Though officials “took into account the fact that Navalny was being treated at the Charité clinic” — the German hospital where he was taken after his August 2020 poisoning, — the FSIN underscored that Navalny “didn’t show up for registration after being discharged and only on November 23 conveyed that he was living at the Hotel Arabel in Berlin, where he was recovering his health.”
No official confirmation of treatment at the hotel was provided, and the fact of undergoing rehabilitation procedures itself is not a reason not to appear for registration...Taking into account the above-mentioned facts of these gross violations, guided by the principle of inevitability of liability and the demands of the laws...Russia’s FSIN for the city of Moscow is obliged to take all actions to detain the offender A.A. Navalny pending a court decision on replacing his suspended sentence with a real one.
On Wednesday, Alexey Navalny announced that he will be returning to Moscow on Sunday, January 17. Navalny has been in Germany for about five months, undergoing treatment and rehabilitation after he was poisoned with Novichok-type nerve agent. In December 2020, a joint investigation from Bellingcat and The Insider implicated a special FSB sub-unit of eight federal agents in poisoning Navalny.
Also on Wednesday, reports emerged that Navalny had been added to Russia’s federal wanted list as of December 29, 2020. This was confirmed by his lawyer Vadim Kobzev, who also told MBX Media that Navalny was unaware that he had been put on a wanted list when he announced his decision to return to Russia.
On January 12, Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service filed an appeal in court seeking to revoke Navalny’s probation sentence in the so-called Yves Rocher case and incarcerate him, accusing him of failing to fulfil the duties assigned to him by the court and evading the oversight of corrective services.
On December 29, 2020, state investigators in Russia announced felony fraud charges against Navalny for allegedly embezzling hundreds of millions of rubles in donations to his non-profit (the Anti-Corruption Foundation) and other organizations. Navalny has linked this new criminal case to the investigation into the circumstances surrounding his poisoning.