Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been remanded in custody for 30 days by a judge after a court hearing at a police precinct, according to his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh.
The Kremlin critic has been held at the police precinct outside Moscow since his return to Russia from Germany on Sunday, five months after his poisoning with the nerve agent Novichok.
He arrived with his wife Yulia Navalnaya at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on Sunday evening local time and was immediately detained at passport control.
Navalny traveled from Berlin to Moscow after recovering in Germany from his poisoning in August. Confusion surrounded his arrival in Russia — his plane was originally scheduled to land at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport, where supporters and media were waiting.
“It is impossible what is happening over here,” Navalny said in a video from the improvised courtroom, posted on his page in the messaging app Telegram. “It is lawlessness of the highest degree.”
“Navalny was remanded in custody by a decision made in the police department, outside of court and legal procedures,” wrote Navalny ally Vyacheslav Gimadi, in a translated tweet.
Videos and images posted on social media Monday show Navalny supporters gathered outside the building where he is being held.
“I am standing near the Internal Affairs Directorate, where the Ministry of Internal Affairs asks to arrest Alexey for 30 days,” wrote Navalny spokeswoman Yarmysh, in a translated tweet.
Navalny’s detention has been condemned by the U.S., U.K and the European Union. The outgoing U.S. secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said the U.S. “strongly condemns” the decision to arrest Navalny.
Jake Sullivan, the incoming national security advisor for President-elect Joe Biden, called on Russia to release Navalny. “Mr. Navalny should be immediately released, and the perpetrators of the outrageous attack on his life must be held accountable,” he tweeted Sunday. “The Kremlin’s attacks on Mr. Navalny are not just a violation of human rights, but an affront to the Russian people who want their voices heard.”
“I condemn the detention of Alexei Navalny by the Russian authorities,” tweeted E.U. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “They must immediately release him and ensure his safety. Detention of political opponents is against Russia’s international commitments.”
“It is appalling that Alexey Navalny, the victim of a despicable crime, has been detained by Russian authorities,” tweeted U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Sunday. “He must be immediately released. Rather than persecuting Mr Navalny Russia should explain how a chemical weapon came to be used on Russian soil.”
Navalny announced last week that he would return to Russia, despite Russian authorities’ threats to put him behind bars again. On Thursday, Russia’s prison service said that he faced immediate arrest on his return.
The opposition leader, who has blamed his poisoning on the Kremlin, charged that Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to deter him from coming home with new legal motions. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied a role in the opposition leader’s poisoning.
At the end of December, the Federal Penitentiary Service, or FSIN, warned Navalny that he faced time in prison if he fails to immediately report to its office in line with the terms of a suspended sentence and probation he received for a 2014 conviction on charges of embezzlement and money laundering that he rejected as politically motivated. The European Court for Human Rights had ruled that his conviction was unlawful.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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