Hours before the departure of the Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny from Berlin, the Russian authorities tightened the security presence at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport.
The plane of the Russian airline Pobeda is scheduled to arrive at 5:20 p.m. CET (7:20 p.m. local time). Numerous supporters of the opposition leader reported “preventive arrests”. On social networks it was possible to see how forces of the anti-terror police Omon took position with prisoner transports at the airport the evening before.
The most prominent critic of Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin had called on his supporters to meet him in Moscow. He is also threatened with arrest for allegedly violating probation conditions in previous criminal proceedings.
In St. Petersburg, the head of Navalny’s staff there, Irina Fatyanova, reported that she and two other activists had been taken from a train to Moscow and had been detained by the police for three hours without giving any reason. Other activists said they were detained in St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport or stopped in vehicles on the street.
The Kremlin-critical Internet channel Doschd reported that there were widespread closures. According to the broadcaster, Navalny is accompanied by reporters and activists on the plane.
The flight could be a “historic event”. He admired Navalny’s courage. “He works to ensure that the Russians’ right to freedom of expression is protected.”
The Kremlin chief rejects the allegations.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210117-99-55962 / 3 (dpa)
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