Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s defiant pledge to return to Moscow from Germany after surviving a poisoning attack puts the Kremlin in a major bind.
President Vladimir Putin, observers say, is caught between a rock and a hard place: allow his most outspoken critic to freely return to Russia and risk looking weak, or hand Navalny a lengthy prison term and potentially turn him into a global cause celebre.
“There is not a good decision here but some sort of decision will have to be made,” political analyst Tatyana Stanovaya told AFP.
The 44-year-old’s announcement that he was returning to Moscow on Sunday aboard Pobeda — Aeroflot’s low-cost subsidiary whose name means “Victory” in Russian — drew gasps from admirers and critics alike.
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WNU Editor: He is calculating that if he is arrested, it will galvanize Russia’s political opposition movement around him …. With Return To Russia, Navalny Hedges Jail Threat Against Prospect Of Mobilizing Opposition To Putin (RFE). In a normal situation I would say yes. But the priority for most Russians right now is to survive the Covid-19 pandemic. No one is focused on politics. And yes …. there is a warrant for him and he will be arrested when he lands at the airport.
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