Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny was arrested at the Moscow airport on Sunday after returning from Germany. There he spent over five months recovering from a poisoning that almost cost him his life. Russian President Vladimir Putin is suspected of having him poisoned in an attempt to remove his biggest political opponent and threat. It has been said of Navalny that Putin fears him so much that “he won’t even speak his name.” A judge sentenced Navalny to 30 days in detention in a speedy “court hearing” at the police station where he was being detained. He will now await trial for “alleged parole violations.” Navalny addressed his supporters in a video shortly after the hearing, encouraging them to protest his arrest.
“Do not be afraid. Take to the streets. Don’t do it for me, do it for yourselves and for your future.”Aleksei Navalny, Russian Opposition Leader and Anti-corruption Activist
🇷🇺 “Navalny knew what awaited him, because he knows as well as the dissidents of the Soviet era knew that the one thing a corrupt and authoritarian regime cannot abide is the truth.” @nytopinion https://t.co/mNVYIDtt5D— Eurasia Center (@ACEurasia) January 18, 2021
The West has condemned the arrest and is calling for the release of Navalny. The United Nations Human Rights office stated, “Russia: We are deeply troubled by the arrest of Aleksei Navalny and call for his immediate release and for his due process rights to be respected in line with the rule of law. We reiterate our call for a thorough and impartial investigation into his poisoning.” Natalia Zviagina, Moscow office director of Amnesty International, seconded this, stating, “Aleksei Navalny’s arrest is further evidence that Russian authorities are seeking to silence him. His detention only highlights the need to investigate his allegations that he was poisoned by state agents acting on orders from the highest levels.”
“Russia must immediately free Aleksei @navalny. Democratic states that abide by the rule of law do not put opposition leaders in prison. EU must take a joint position on the matter.”Petteri Orpo, Chair of the Finnish National Coalition Party
Robert Kelner, Esq., Chair of the Election and Political Law Practice Group, noted, “It’s important to understand one reason Navalny felt duty-bound to return to Russia. He leads a movement. Many of his compatriots remain hard at work and at risk. He could not abandon them.” “Detention of political opponents is against Russia’s international commitments,” stated Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.