Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny is being kept under judicial custody until mid-February. He was arrested on January 17 at the Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport following his return from German capital Berlin. Navalny, Russian President’s top critic, was undergoing medical treatment after getting what German authorities declared as poisoning with a Russian nerve agent of Novichok Group.
The Russian opposition leader has repeatedly blamed Moscow for his alleged poisoning. He recently even said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had given the order for his “murder”. However, Kremlin has denied any involvement.
Following Navalny’s arrest, Western powers also called on Russia to release the Kremlin critic, who is accused by authorities of breaking the terms of a 2014 suspended sentence. Meanwhile, Navalny said the embezzlement charges relating to that case were politically motivated. It is worth noting that Putin’s political contender will be released from house arrest once the verdict comes into effect and will be kept in police’s detention until February 15.
August 20, 2020 - Alexei Navalny was hospitalised in the city of Omsk after falling ill and losing consciousness while on a flight over Siberia. He was believed to be poisoned by a cup of tea he drank prior to the takeoff from Tomsk’s Bogashevo airport. Following the incident, the Russian doctors had said that they found “no trace” in his blood or urine.
August 22, 2020 - Putin critic was airlifted to Charite hospital in Germany’s capital, Berlin, for treatment. There, German doctors had said that their tests indicated that Navalny was poisoned.
September 2020 - in the first week of September, German officials had said that there is “unequivocal proof” that Navalny was poisoned with Novichok nerve agent, which is Soviet-era chemical weapons. German Chancellor Angela Merkel had also called Navalny a “victim of attempted murder”. She said that there are serious questions that only the Russian government can and must answer. Several international leaders also called for investigations into the incident.
Following the Western pressure, Kremlin rejected all the claims. On September 4, a Russian toxicology report also suggested that Navalny’s health could have deteriorated because of dieting, stress or fatigue. Russia repeatedly insisted that no poison had been found in Navalny’s body.
September 7, 2020 - Navalny was out of an artificial coma.
September 14, 2020 - Laboratories in France and Sweden confirmed that Navalny was poisoned with Novichok nerve agent. French President Emmanuel Macron even urged the Russian President to shed light on the “attempted murder”. However, Putin continued to condemn the “insubstantial” accusations.
September 15, 2020 - While taking to Instagram, Navalny posted a message saying he is able to breathe unaided, appearing with his wife Yulia and two children, sitting up in bed looking gaunt.
September 17, 2020 - Navalny’s aides said that they found traces of Novichok on a bottle taken from the hotel in Siberia where he stayed before falling ill.
September 22, 2020 - The Kremlin-critic was discharged from hospital and doctors said that a complete recovery is possible. Russia, on the other hand, said that Navalny is welcomed to return to Moscow, however, Kremlin had also frozen his assets while he was in a coma.
October 2020 - Navalny claimed that Putin was behind his poisoning. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, on the other hand, accused Navalny of working for the CIA and called his claims “groundless and unacceptable”.
December 2020 - Investigative site Bellingcat published results of an investigation into Navalny’s alleged poisoning. The website claimed that they had identified a team of assassins from Russia’s FSB security service who had stalked Navalny for years. It had named intelligence officers and poison laboratories, who were behind the operation.
Following Bellingcat’s report, Navalny also released a recording of him appearing to trick an FSB agent into confessing that he tried to kill him by putting poison in his underpants. The FSB, however, denounced the video clip of the phone call as “fake”.
In December end, Russia’s prison service gave Navalny a last-minute ultimatum. They told him to fly back from Germany at once and report at a Moscow office the following morning. The Russian officials had also warned the opposition leader that he will be jailed if he returned after the deadline.
January 12, 2021 - Russian court documents revealed that a judge had been asked to jail Navalny in absentia for having allegedly broken the terms of a suspended sentence he had been serving.
January 13, 2021 - while taking to social media, Navalny finally announced his plans to return home to Russia. “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 unit for one reason: they tried to kill me,” he said.
January 17, 2021 - Navalny flew back to Russia and was detained shortly after landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. His arrest had provoked condemnation from several world leaders and they even called for his immediate release.
January 18, 2021 - Russian judge remanded Navalny in pre-trial detention for 30 days fro violation the terms of his suspended jail sentence at a hastily arranged court hearing in a police state on the outskirts of Moscow. In an appeal, Navalny’s Instagram post read: “Do not be afraid, take to the streets” asking Russians and Navalny’s allies to start demonstrations against the decision.