Russian judge asked to jail Kremlin critic Navalny in abstentia

Alexei Navalny wrote on Instagram that he had booked a flight that will arrive in Russia on Jan 17 2021

Alexei Navalny: Russian prison service demands jail term | DW | 12.01.2021

Russian opposition activist Alexey Navalny speaks to a crowd during a protest in Moscow, on July 20, 2019.

Navalny, one of President Vladimir Putin's leading critics, was airlifted to Germany for treatment in August a year ago after collapsing on a plane in what Germany and other Western nations say was an attempt to murder him with a Novichok nerve agent.

Last month, Russia's Federal Prison Service (FSIN) ordered him to immediately fly back from Germany, where he is convalescing, and report at a Moscow office or be jailed if he failed to return in time. Navalny has been recovering from being poisoned in August with a highly toxic nerve agent, an attempt on his life that he has blamed on the Kremlin, which denies any role.

There was no immediate comment from the Russian government on the appeal to the Simonovsky District Court posted on the prison service's website.

This week, Russia's prison service applied to a court to have Mr Navalny's suspended sentence in an embezzlement case from 2014 converted to a real jail term. He has denounced the conviction as politically motivated, and the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that it was unlawful.

He also points out the suspended sentence was to end on December 30, thus rendering the request moot.

Navalny fell into a coma while aboard a domestic flight from Siberia to Moscow on August 20.

The Siberian hospital that first treated him said he had been diagnosed with a metabolic disease caused by low blood sugar.

Labs in Germany, France and Sweden, and tests by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, established that he was exposed to a Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent. "I ended up in Germany, having arrived there in an intensive care box", Navalny tweeted.

Mr Navalny insists that the attack was carried out by Russia's main security agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), on the orders of President Vladimir Putin. The FSB dismissed the recording as fake.

Navalny has said that he plans to return to Russian Federation after he is fully recovered.

"They seem to be in hysterics wondering what else to do to prevent Navalny from returning to Russian Federation, " his spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, said on Twitter.

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