Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny detained on his return to Russia from Germany
Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny detained on his return to Russia from Germany. Photo: Moscow Times

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny returns to Russia from Germany on Sunday, facing imminent arrest after authorities warned they would detain him.

The 44-year-old opposition leader is flying back to Moscow after spending several months in Germany recovering from a poisoning attack that he said was carried out on the orders of President Vladimir Putin. His supporters are preparing to meet him at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport despite bitterly cold weather, according to Moscow Times.

The latest developments on the Navalny return:

20.40 Navalny has left the plane and is now on the bus en route to the airport terminal.

20.50 Navalny briefly talks to journalists after getting into the airport terminal. He said that he is "absolutely happy" that he arrived, calling it the "best day in the last five months."

The politician criticized the authorities for diverting the plane and "putting the aviation industry in danger." He apologized to the other passengers for all the commotion and said he is not afraid of arrest. Navalny is now going through passport control.

21.00 Navaly has been arrested at passport control. His lawyer was not allowed to join him.

21.15 Russian prison authorities confirm Navalny has been detained for violating the terms of his probation. He will remain in custody until the court hearing. Meanwhile, 53 people have been arrested so far at Vnukovo Airport.

21.40 Amnesty International has declared Navalny a prisoner of conscience.

The exact reason for his detainment was his failure to appear at a parole hearing, The Guardian reports.

Navalny arrived in Berlin in a coma after he was poisoned while on a trip to Siberia in August. Tests run by European health authorities showed that he was poisoned by a variant of the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok. Doctors removed him from a medically induced coma in September. Navalny had been in recovery from extensive nerve damage since then and said in an Instagram post that he realized it was time for him to return to Russia as he was feeling better.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied Navalny was poisoned. But in December, Navalny said he had uncovered details of his own poisoning by duping a Kremlin officer involved in the attack into revealing how it was orchestrated, NPR reports.

Who is Alexei Navalny?

Alexei Navalny Family: Wife and Children

For the past 20 years, Alexey has been living in a 3-room apartment in Maryino District, in the southeast of Moscow. He is married to Yulia Navalnaya and has two children, Daria (16) and Zakhar (10). They both study at a municipal school.

Alexey Navalny was born on June 4, 1976 in the village of Butyn near Moscow in the family of a military officer; in his childhood, he travelled a lot from one garrison town to another with his family. Alexey's parents, Anatoly Ivanovich and Lyudmila Ivanovna, are retired now, according to

Alexey Navalny has two higher education degrees. In 1997, he graduated from the People's Friendship University of Russia (lawyer), and in 2001 — from the Finance Academy under the Government of the Russian Federation (economist). While studying for his second degree, he also worked as a lawyer.

Alexei Navalny Career

Alexey Navalny is a professional lawyer. Before becoming a famous politician, he used to work as an attorney. The unlawful prosecution has led to Navalny's attorney license being revoked.

Navalny founded the «Muscovite protection committee». This movement united over 100 initiative groups of opponents of the infill development. It achieved cancellation of a number of constructions that were harming the residents of nearby houses.

In 2008, Navalny first became known to the general public when he published the proofs of embezzlement of funds by Russia's major state corporations. As a lawyer, he founded the «Union of minority shareholders» and conducted the trials against Gazprom, Rosneft, Transneft and Gazpromneft to achieve transparency and accountability of these companies to the common shareholders.

The new step in Navalny's anti-corruption activities: he founded the «RosPil» project aimed at detecting the cases of fraud or unfair competition during the public procurements. «RosPil»'s team of lawyers has analyzed all the major expenditures of government bodies and state companies, identified and challenged in court hundreds of violations and developed a set of suggestions on improvement of the legislation regarding public procurements.

In 2011, Alexey Navalny coined the famous slogan «United Russia» is a party of crooks and thieves' and started the public campaign «Vote for any party other that «United Russia». This campaign gained nationwide support, and the government had to resort to a massive rigging of the elections in order to ensure that «United Russia» gets the majority of seats in the State Duma.

In 2013, Alexey Navalny participated in the Moscow mayoral elections. According to the official data, he received over 27% of the vote. He was supported by more Muscovites that the KPRF, LDPR, SR and Yabloko candidates combined.

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