Vladimir Putin critic Alexei Navalny plans return to Russia | DW

2020 on the Instagram account of @navalny shows Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny sitting on a bench in Berlin as he was recuperating from a poisoning attempt

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny says he will fly back to Russian Federation on January 17 from Germany, where he has been convalescing after being poisoned. Russian Federation has denied any involvement in the incident, while insisting there is a lack of evidence in the case.

The Kremlin has said it has seen no evidence Navalny was poisoned and that he is free to return to Russian Federation at any time.

It came just a day before the end of a probation period for the three-and-a-half-year prison term over a theft case which Navalny says was politically motivated.

"I ended up in Germany after arriving in an intensive care box for one reason: They tried to kill me".

"There was never a question for me whether to return or not, never", Navalny said on Twitter. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied a role in the opposition leader's poisoning.

Navalny is Russia's most prominent opposition leader and has always been a thorn in the Kremlin's side, publishing high-profile investigations into alleged corruption among powerful officials and building a grass-roots protest movement.

On Monday, the Federal Penitentiary Service appealed to Moscow's Simonovsky court to replace a 3 1/2 year suspended sentence with a prison term for a fraud conviction that Navalny received in 2014.

Russian prosecutors last month also announced they were bringing "large-scale fraud" charges against Navalny and some of his colleagues for allegedly embezzling donations from their activist organizations. But I'm not interested in what they're doing there. "The only thing left for Putin to do is to put up a giant billboard on top of the Kremlin saying "Alexey, please don't return home under any circumstances!"

The prison service stated no deadline, but Navalny posted a screenshot of a message to his lawyer which said he had until 9am on December 29 to show up at a Moscow office. He was transferred from a hospital in Siberia to a Berlin hospital two days later.

Navalny, 44, has been recovering in Germany following what western scientists determined to be poisoning by the Novichok nerve agent in August.

Russian authorities insisted that the doctors who treated Navalny in Siberia before he was airlifted to Germany found no traces of poison and have challenged German officials to provide proof of poisoning. They refused to open a full-fledged criminal inquiry, citing the lack of evidence that Navalny was poisoned. The FSB, Russia's spy agency, dismissed the recording as fake.

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