Moscow’s Vnukovo International Airport, where opposition figure Alexey Navalny is set to land on Sunday, January 17, will not be allowing journalists on its property to cover his arrival.
In an email to the news portal Sota Vision, spokespeople for the airport attributed this decision to anti-coronavirus measures.
In order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection, as well as to ensure the safety of the arrival of passengers and guests of Vnukovo International Airport, mass events, including the organization of media activities on the territory of the airport complex are temporarily suspended.
At the same time, the Vnukovo Airport’s spokespeople assured that a video of the passengers on the flight from Berlin “will be provided.”
Sota Vision announced that it intends to broadcast from Vnukovo Airport “regardless of its press service’s readiness to cooperate with journalists.”
On January 13, Alexey Navalny announced that he will be returning to Russia from Germany, where he has been for about five months, undergoing treatment and rehabilitation after he was poisoned with a Novichok-type nerve agent in August 2020. According to Navalny, he will be arriving at Moscow’s Vnukovo International Airport on Pobeda flight from Berlin on Sunday, January 17.
Russia’s prison authorities have announced that they will be “obliged to take all actions to arrest” Navalny upon his return to Russia, pending a court decision on revoking his probation in the Yves Rocher case and replacing it with a prison sentence. Prison officials filed a court complaint against Navalny on January 12, accusing him of failing to fulfil the terms of his probation 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. That same day, the Russian authorities added Navalny to the country’s federal wanted list — a fact he became aware of only after he announced his return to Russia.
According to the head of Navalny’s regional network, Leonid Volkov, the Anti-Corruption Foundation reports on donations annually. Navalny has linked the criminal charges to an investigation from Bellingcat and The Insider that implicated a team of eight FSB agents in his poisoning.