Russian anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny—a popular political opponent of Vladimir Putin’s regime—returned to Russia today, months after he was poisoned in an attempted assassination. Navalny narrowly escaped assassination after Russian operatives lined his underwear with the lethal nerve agent Novichok.
When he fell ill, his plane landed, he was evacuated to hospital, and then sent on to Germany for treatment. Investigators in Germany determined he was poisoned with Novichok, a banned Russian nerve agent.
Today, Navalny returned to his Russia. His plane was diverted when its intended destination airport was abruptly closed to incoming air traffic. Upon arrival, he was reportedly taken into custody.
Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.
Amnesty International is calling for his immediate release, as well as the release of any who went to greet him upon his return. Amnesty’s Moscow director is saying:
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.
International outcry over the attempted assassination of Mr. Navalny and the regime’s persecution of his Anti-Corruption campaign has been widespread. World leaders have denounced the poisoning and demanded a full and transparent investigation from Russian authorities, which has not materialized.