Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny will return to his home country amid threats to jail him over a prior conviction he has dismissed as politically motivated following his recovery from an assassination attempt experts have blamed on Russia's government.
Reuters and The Associated Press reported that Navalny told news outlets that on Sunday he will fly home to Russia from Germany, where he has been recovering from a poisoning via the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok.
His decision also comes following a warning from Russian officials that he faces a prison term should he not report to a federal facility under the terms of a suspended sentence handed down against him in 2014 for money laundering and embezzlement, which the European High Court has rejected as unlawful.
“Putin is stamping his feet demanding to do everything so that that I don’t return home,” Navalny said Wednesday in an Instagram post translated by the AP. “The people who tried to kill me got offended because I survived and now they are threatening to put me behind bars.”
A spokesperson for Germany's foreign ministry told the AP that Navalny was "free to make his decision," adding that the agency was "glad he recovered after this attack that was carried out on him."
“It was never a question of whether to return or not. Simply because I never left. I ended up in Germany after arriving in an intensive care box for one reason: they tried to kill me,” added Navalny in the Instagram post.
Navalny is a longtime critic of Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinNew hacking efforts show Russia undeterred by US actions Putin blasts cancel culture, calls gender fluidity 'crime against humanity' Russia breaks daily COVID-19 infections, death record MORE, Russia's president, and routinely speaks out against corruption in Russia's government. He ran for mayor in Moscow in 2013, losing to a Putin appointee, and attempted to later run for president before being barred by the country's electoral commission from doing so.
Russia has denied involvement in his poisoning, and the AP reports that a sizable proportion of the Russian population doubts the Western narrative explaining his poisoning, according to a poll commissioned in the country.