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Joe Biden sends ferocious warning to Vladimir Putin after Russia detains poisoning victim
Alexei Navalny was poisoned say scientists in France and Sweden
Russian authorities immediately detained Mr Navalny as he landed at a Moscow airport on Sunday. The fierce critic of Mr Putin arrived back to his homeland after spending five months in Germany recovering from a life-threatening nerve agent attack. The 44-year-old blames Mr Putin for the poisoning – something Russia has always denied.
Russia’s prisons service said Mr Navalny was detained at Sheremetyevo airport after violating parole from a suspended sentence on a 2014 embezzlement conviction.
The actions by Russian authorities have been condemned by figures around the world – including the Biden administration.
Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor for President-elect Biden, called on Mr Navalny to be released immediately and said those responsible for the poisoning must be held accountable.
In a post on Twitter, he said: “Mr Navalny should be immediately released, and the perpetrators of the outrageous attack on his life must be held accountable.
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“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.”
Outgoing US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said: “Deeply troubled by Russia’s decision to arrest Aleksey Navalny.
“Confident political leaders do not fear competing voices, nor see the need to commit violence against or wrongfully detain, political opponents.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Rabb described the treatment of Mr Navalny “appalling” and also called for him to be released.
He said: “It is appalling that Alexei Navalny, the victim of a despicable crime, has been detained by Russian authorities. He must be immediately released.
“Rather than persecuting Mr Navalny, Russia should explain how a chemical weapon came to be used on Russian soil.”
In a post on Twitter, European Parliament president David Sassoli said: “The arrest of Alexey Navalny in Moscow is an offence to the international community, to Europe that helped save his life.”
In a statement, Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas added: “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 released immediately.”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has hit back at critics by insisting it is a domestic issue and told world leaders to concentrate on their own affairs.
She said: “Respect international law, do not encroach on national legislation of sovereign states and address problems in your own country.”
On August 20 last year, Mr Navalny fell ill on board a domestic flight from Siberia to Moscow.
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Two days later he was transferred to a hospital in Berlin for life-saving treatment.
In September, toxicology tests carried out at a German military laboratory base found there was “unequivocal proof” he was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent.
The same month, he was released from hospital and continued his rehabilitation in Germany, before flying to Russia on January 17.
Upon arrival at the airport in Moscow, Mr Navalny was greeted by his supporters and said: “I know that I’m right. I fear nothing”.
Moments before he was detained, speaking to border guards, he said: “Have you been waiting for me long?”
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