MOSCOW: Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny plans to fly back to Russia on Sunday for the first time since he was poisoned in August, despite the risk of being jailed on his return from Germany.
The decision, announced by Navalny on Wednesday, signals his intention to continue his political struggle against Vladimir Putin and creates a dilemma for the authorities on how to deal with one of the Russian president’s most prominent critics.
Navalny, who has been receiving treatment in Germany, accuses Putin of ordering his poisoning with the deadly nerve agent Novichok, and some supporters had urged him to stay abroad for his own safety.
Putin has denied the authorities tried to poison Navalny and said Russian agents would have finished the job if they had wanted him dead.
The Kremlin has said it has seen no evidence Navalny was poisoned and that he is free to return to Russia at any time.
Navalny, 44, said he had almost fully recovered his health, and that he was unfazed by the risks his return may pose.
“It was never a question of whether to return or not. Simply because I never left. I ended up in Germany after arriving in an intensive care box for one reason: they tried to kill me,” Navalny wrote on Instagram.
“(Putin’s) servants are acting as usual by fabricating new criminal cases against me. But I’m not interested in what they’re doing there. Russia is my country, Moscow is my city and I miss it.”