Frederick Florin / AFP via Getty Images
Updated at 3:10 PM ET
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was arrested upon his arrival in Moscow on Sunday after spending nearly five months in Germany while recovering from poisoning.
Shortly before his arrest, Navalny made a statement saying that all the cases against him were fabricated. He added that the European Court of Human Rights ruled in his favor in the case in which he was threatened with imprisonment. “This is why I am not afraid of anything,” he said.
Navalny returned to Moscow on Sunday on a flight from Berlin. When he announced his plans to return earlier in the week, he asked his supporters to meet him upon his return.
And they did. Crowds formed at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport, where earlier on Sunday there were at least four Navalny’s aides. They were arrested. There was also a heavy police presence at the airport, where some officers wore riot gear.
Navalny arrived in Berlin In coma After being poisoned during a trip to Siberia in August. Tests by European health authorities showed that he was poisoned by a type of Soviet-era nerve gas Novichok. Doctors removed him from his medical coma in September. Navalny said he has been recovering from severe nerve damage since then In the Instagram post He realized it was time for him to return to Russia, where he was feeling better.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied that Navalny has been poisoned. But Navalny said he did so in December He revealed the details of his poisoning By deceiving the Kremlin officer involved in the attack to reveal how it was orchestrated.
Said Jake Sullivan, the new national security advisor to President-elect Joe Biden In a tweet On Sunday afternoon, Navalny must be released immediately, and the perpetrators of the heinous attack for his life must be held accountable. “The Kremlin’s attacks on Mr. Navalny are not just a violation of human rights, but an insult to the Russian people who want their voices to be heard.”