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Kremlin critic Navalny defies Putin and returns to Russia

Moscow: Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was bound for Russia on Sunday to return home for the first time since he was poisoned last summer despite Russian authorities threatening to arrest him upon arrival.

Navalny, one of President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent domestic critics, was flown to Berlin in August last year for emergency medical treatment after being poisoned with what German tests showed was a Novichok nerve agent.

Alexei Navalny boards his flight to Moscow at Berlin Brandenburg airport on Sunday.

Alexei Navalny boards his flight to Moscow at Berlin Brandenburg airport on Sunday.Credit:AP

“This is the best moment in the last five months,” he told reporters after he boarded the plane in the German capital, bound for Moscow. “I feel great. Finally, I’m returning to my home town.”

He announced his decision to return from Germany on Wednesday, and a day later Moscow’s prison service said it would do everything to arrest him once he returned, accusing him of flouting the terms of a suspended prison sentence for embezzlement, a 2014 case he says was trumped up.

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