PARIS: Russia’s top opposition politician, Alexei Navalny, survived a dramatic poisoning attack in 2020 that he blamed on President Vladimir Putin only to be sent to a penal colony when he recovered.
On Tuesday (6th of June, 2023), the European Court of Human Rights, which has called for his release, condemned Moscow for failing to investigate his poisoning.
AFP looks back at the main developments in the affair.
– August 2020: coma –
Anti-corruption campaigner Navalny, who led mass protests against the Kremlin, is hospitalised on August 20, 2020, in Omsk, Siberia, after losing consciousness during a flight.
Put into a medically induced coma, Navalny, then aged 44, is transferred two days later to a Berlin hospital at his family’s request.
– Sept. 2020: Novichok detected –
Berlin says that tests carried out by a German army laboratory yielded “unequivocal evidence” that he was poisoned with Novichok, a Soviet-era chemical weapon used against former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England in 2018.
– Sept. 2020: Putin accused –
Navalny emerges from the coma on September 7 and is discharged from hospital two weeks later.
He accuses Putin of being behind his poisoning.
The Kremlin calls his claims “groundless and unacceptable”.
– Oct 2020: first sanctions –
The European Union, the United Kingdom and Norway impose sanctions on several top Russian officials.
– Dec. 2020: confession –
Navalny releases a recording in October of him tricking a Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) agent into confessing that he tried to kill him.
– Jan 2021: return to Russia –
Navalny returns to Russia, declaring he is “not afraid” of what fate awaits him. He is detained shortly after landing at Moscow airport.
Tens of thousands of people demonstrate across the country for his release.
– February 2021: jailed –
He is handed a two-and-a-half year sentence for breaching the conditions of a previous sentence and sent to a penal colony about 100 kilometres (60 miles) east of Moscow.
Washington joins the round of sanctions on senior Russian officials.
– Apr 2021: supporters targeted –
Judges designate Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) as extremist.
In June 2021, Putin signs a law banning people working for what are considered extremist organisations from standing in elections, in a move apparently targeted at Navalny’s supporters.