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Jan 13 2021

‘Putin is enraged I survived’: Navalny accuses Russian president of forcing move to activate suspended prison sentence

Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny has accused Vladimir Putin of orchestrating an attempt to send him to prison, claiming the president is “enraged” that he survived an alleged poisoning in Siberia last summer.

Navalny’s comments come after the country’s Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) submitted an application to a Moscow court, accusing the anti-corruption activist of “failure to fulfill assigned duties” regarding a suspended sentence he received in 2014.

Back then, Navalny was found guilty of embezzling 30 million rubles ($400,000) from two companies, including the French cosmetics brand Yves Rocher.

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The opposition figure’s probation period was due to finish on December 30. However, on December 28, he was summoned by the FSIN.

Navalny is currently abroad, in Germany, where he was treated following his alleged August 2020 poisoning with the nerve agent, Novichok. However, according to the FSIN, the opposition figure should have been able to come to the local office. The service’s statement cites a December 22 article in the Britain medical journal, The Lancet, which revealed that Navalny has mainly recovered from his illness.

Following Navalny’s failure to attend the FSIN’s local office, the country’s Federal Penitentiary Service applied for his suspended sentence to be upgraded to a real one, meaning he could be immediately put behind bars when he returns to the country. If the ruling goes against him, he will be given three-and-a-half years in prison.

“Putin is so enraged that I survived his poisoning that he ordered the FSIN to go to court and demand that my suspended sentence be changed to a real one,” he tweeted on Tuesday afternoon.

Navalny’s press secretary Kira Yarmish has used the FSIN application to accuse the authorities of trying to prevent him from returning to Russia.

The opposition figure is also facing separate fraud charges, accusing him of misusing money donated to him for politics and journalism. Prosecutors say he spent around 356 million rubles ($4.8 million) for “personal purposes,” including the purchase of property

Navalny arrived in Germany on August 22, two days after he fell ill on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow. When the plane was forced to land in Omsk, another Russian city, he was taken to hospital and placed in a coma. After requests from his family and associates, he was flown to Berlin’s Charite Clinic for treatment. According to German scientists, Navalny was poisoned with the nerve agent, Novichok. On September 23, he was discharged.

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