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Kremlin critic Navalny announces return to Russia

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny says he will return to Russia on Sunday, five months after he was evacuated to Germany following an assassination attempt.

Whether “to go back or not” was never a question, Navalny said in a statement published on his Instagram on Wednesday. He did not leave Russia voluntarily, but rather “arrived in Germany in an emergency box,” he added.

On August 20, Navalny fell ill on a flight to Moscow and was taken to a hospital in Siberia for before being airlifted to Berlin, where tests determined he had been poisoned with the chemical nerve agent Novichok. He has since been recuperating in Germany.

Navalny said that he has almost fully recovered and the moment to leave Germany had come: “On Sunday, 17th January, I return to Moscow on Flight Victory.”

The opposition politician risks arrest upon return. Russian authorities are seeking to jail Navalny for allegedly breaching the terms of a sentence and probation he received as part of a 2014 case. He is also accused of using 356 million rubles — about €3.9 million — in donations from charity organizations for personal purposes, which he has denied.

“Putin again is stomping his feet and demanding everything is done to ensure I don’t return home … They’re doing everything they can to scare me,” Navalny said.

He finished his announcement with a challenge to the Kremlin: “Come and get me.”

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