Monday January 18, 2021
The arrest of Alexei Navalny
has provoked condemnation around the world, as the United States and
Europe, as well as prominent activists like Edward Snowden, called for
Russian authorities to release the opposition leader.
Navalny was taken into custody on Sunday evening
as he returned to Russia for the first time since a suspected poisoning
by the FSB last year, risking his freedom in a direct challenge to the
Kremlin.Joe Biden’s incoming national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, called for Navalny’s immediate release, adding that the “perpetrators of the outrageous attack on his life must be held accountable”.
International quickly pronounced Navalny a “prisoner of conscience,”
saying that he “has been deprived of his liberty for his peaceful
political activism and for exercising free speech”.
Snowden, the NSA whistleblower who now lives in Russia, also tweeted in support of Navalny, calling his arrest a “repetition of mistakes made in the Soviet era”.
The outgoing US administration, which has been
hesitant to criticise Vladimir Putin’s government, also condemned
The US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said
Washington strongly condemned Navalny’s detention, describing it as “the
latest in a series of attempts to silence Navalny and other opposition
figures and independent voices who are critical of Russian authorities”.
political leaders do not fear competing voices, nor commit violence
against or wrongfully detain political opponents,” he added.
foreign minister Heiko Maas said: “Russia is bound by its own
constitution and by international obligations to the principle of the
rule of law and to the protection of civil rights. These principles
must, of course, be applied to Alexei Navalny as well. He should be
Navalny was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on Sunday,
less than an hour after he flew in from Germany, where he had been
recovering from the poisoning with the nerve agent Novichok that he says
was ordered by President Vladimir Putin.
officers met Navalny at passport control and detained him. Navalny
kissed his wife goodbye and gave her a hug. He then disappeared with the
Supporters were temporary unable to
find Navalny and began tweeting under the hashtag Where is Navalny to
demand information on his arrest. Late on Sunday evening, his lawyer
said that Navalny was being held at a police station near the airport
and that she had not been admitted to see him.
The president of the European council, Charles
Michel, said Navalny’s detention was “unacceptable”. “I call on Russian
authorities to immediately release him,” Michel tweeted.
foreign ministry echoed that call. “With its European partners, it is
following the situation with the utmost vigilance and call for his
immediate release,” spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said in a statement.
British foreign office said it was “deeply concerned … Instead of
persecuting the victim of this terrible crime, the Russian authorities
should investigate how a chemical weapon came to be used on Russian
British opposition MPs also criticised
Russia. Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said Navalny was “the victim
of a cowardly chemical weapons attack. He has shown great courage in
returning to his homeland. His detention is unjustifiable and an insult
to the Russian people. He must be released immediately and his attackers
brought to justice.”
Britain’s defence committee chairman, Tobias Ellwood, called Navalny’s decision to return to Russia “incredibly brave”.
“Poisoned by the FSB yet he chooses to return to Russia and has now been arrested.
Incredibly brave stand by Navalny in the name of democracy as we head towards Russian parliamentary elections.”
Navalny’s flight had been due to touch down at
Moscow’s Vnukovo airport, where hundreds of supporters had gathered. The
authorities closed the airport at the last minute, and diverted
Navalny’s plane to Sheremetyevo, away from waiting media.
Navalny’s spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, said in a tweet that Navalny had not been allowed to see a lawyer at the airport or at the police station.
to Navalny’s arrival, Russia’s prisons service said the 44-year-old had
violated parole terms from a suspended sentence on a 2014 embezzlement