Kremlin detained Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Moscow Airport upon arrival from Germany. There, he was recovering from the poisoning effect of an alleged nerve agent that he blamed on the government. His immediate arrest upon return intensified the backlash on the Russian government and its head, Vladimir Putin.
Multiple countries including the US, Canada, and several EU nations have condemned this act by the authorities. President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen said that the detention of political opponents was against Russia’s international commitments. She also orders a thorough investigation into the attempt on Alexei’s life and claims to monitor it closely.
Alexei Navalny Is Kremlin’s Fiercest Critic
The 44-year old blogger is the most prominent face of Russian opposition to President Vladimir Putin. He got into mainstream after 2011 presidential election in Russia by calling Russians to protest against the voter fraud. Since then, he has been running a very loud anti-corruption campaign in the country. Millions of Russians follow him on social media and also has his supporters in Siberian council. His campaign accuses Putin of being a crook and a thief.
Following Navalny’s blogs and social media presence, many Russians did come out to protest on street, after Putin’s United Russia won the election. It eventually started creating problems for Navalny and his supporters, who got tied up in various lawsuits. In 2013, the United Russia government accused him of embezzling wood products worth 500,000 USD from state-owned lumber mill. They sentenced him to 5 years in prison but he soon got out on bail. European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled the lawsuit invalid and found out that Alexei was just following normal business practices.
In 2017, the Russian courts repeated the same case and Alexei maintained that it was because of political rivalry with Putin. The lawsuit disqualified him for running for president against Putin in 2018. The Russian authorities claimed that they arrested Navalny because of same lawsuit 8 years ago. International community has raised voice against his arrest and allegedly bogus cases. Edward Snowden tweeted a reminder on how government system failed over the years for suppressing voices raising public concerns. He was probably referring to what happened to himself and Julian Assange for simply ousting the injustice on state level.
What Happened To Alexei Navalny Last Year?
According to media reports, the leader of opposition collapsed mid-air on his way to Moscow from Siberia. The pilot diverted the flight and landed in Omsk to admit him in the hospital. Two days later, German based charity asked Russian officials to allow in Berlin, Germany for treatment in an induced coma.
As he recovered, he constantly wished to return to Russia despite warnings that he might face arrest on arrival. His plane was supposed to land in Vnukovo airport in Moscow but instead diverted to Sheremetyevo airport. Just before his detention upon arrival, Russian authorities also captured Alexei’s supporters, who were waiting at Vnukovo.
UK has been asking about this recurring nerve agent deaths but Russia has been unable to provide satisfactory answer. In 2018, UK demanded an explanation for the use of chemical weapons in Amesbury poisoning case. UK Foreign secretary called this arrest appalling and demanded immediate release for everyone detained. He also asked for the reason behind chemical weapons being used in the country.
Criticism For Vladimir Putin
A large number of people on social media were standing behind Alexei and demanded Russia to release him. The development largely seemed like an anti-democratic wave that has been going on in multiple countries, including the US. Political observers saw it as similar to Donald Trump’s supporters causing riot on the day of Joe Biden’s oath taking ceremony.
Earlier this month, Navalny was out-speaking savagely against the reigning government of Russia. He openly accused Putin of being a murderer along with other Government officials. Moreover, he has accused the likes of Twitter and Facebook for being biased social media, which has blocked Trump but continue to allow people like Putin to operate freely. In his opinion, the social media networks work as a major base for Putin and other authoritative countries. He denied Trump’s ban was due to violating Twitter rules because he (among other people) received death threats on daily basis; however, Twitter did nothing in this regard.
Reportedly, Russian government has been accused of trying to eliminate Alexei multiple times. His supporters worry for life due to his outspoken nature against travesty. Therefore, international community has to do something more sincere than condemning the political act on social media.