If there was any doubt, it is cleared: Alexeï Navalny, who has repeatedly confirmed his intention to return to Russia, is not welcome there. Tuesday, December 29, the Russian justice announced the opening of a criminal investigation against the opponent, recovering in Berlin since his poisoning.
The case, opened by the powerful Investigation Committee, concerns the facts of“Large-scale scam”, a felony punishable by ten years in prison.
Seeing Mr. Navalny prosecuted in his country is nothing out of the ordinary – the opponent has accumulated, since his debut in politics, dozens of criminal and civil cases. But this is a first since his departure from Russia on August 22, two days after his discomfort aboard a plane on a Tomsk-Moscow flight and a plunge into a coma. In theory, it allows his arrest as soon as he returns to Russian soil.
On Monday, the prison administration had publicly threatened to transform an old sentence with a suspended sentence into a real sentence if it did not respond to a summons the next day. No action was taken.
Navalny denounces Putin’s “hysteria”
The facts described by the Inquiry Committee in this new case are straightforward. Mr. Navalny, who owes a large part of his political career to the investigations in which he denounces the corruption of Russian elites, is accused of having used for his profit part of the donations collected by his Fund against Corruption and other organizations .
Out of 588 million rubles (6.5 million euros) collected from individuals, Alexeï Navalny would have used 356 million (4 million euros) to “Acquire personal and material goods, as well as for the payment of expenses, including holidays abroad”. Such accusations had been made by the public media for many years.
Mr Navalny reacted immediately, attributing this latest development to “Hysteria” who would have taken hold of Mr. Putin at the idea of seeing him return to Russia. “I had warned that they would try to imprison me, because I am not dead, because I denounced my killers and proved that Putin was behind them”, he writes.
Last week, Alexeï Navalny had indeed succeeded in ridiculing the FSB, the security services, by trapping on the phone one of its suspected agents (his identity has hardly been denied) and by making him tell about his role in the poisoning: that of washing the opponent’s underpants, recovered at the Omsk hospital and impregnated with a poison that several European laboratories will then identify as belonging to the Novichok family.
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