MOSCOW — Russia’s prison service has asked a Moscow court to put top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny behind bars for breaching the terms of his suspended sentence and probation.
“Putin is so mad at me for surviving his poisoning that he ordered the Federal Penitentiary Service to replace my suspended sentence with a real one,” Navalny tweeted.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied a role in the opposition leader’s poisoning.
At the end of December, the Federal Penitentiary Service demanded that Navalny report to its office in line with the terms of a suspended sentence he received for a 2014 conviction on charges of embezzlement and money-laundering that he rejected as politically motivated. The service warned that he faced prison time, if he failed to appear.
Navalny says his suspended sentence ended on Dec. 30. He also noted the European Court for Human Rights had ruled that his 2014 conviction was unlawful.
Navalny fell into a coma while aboard a domestic flight from Siberia to Moscow on Aug. 20. He was transferred from a hospital in Siberia to a Berlin hospital two days later.
Russian authorities insisted that doctors who treated Navalny in Siberia before he was airlifted to Germany found no trace of poison and have challenged German officials to provide proof of his poisoning. They refused to open a full-fledged criminal inquiry, citing the lack of evidence that Navalny was poisoned.
Last month, Navalny released the recording of a phone call he said he made to a man he described as an alleged member of a group of officers of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, who purportedly poisoned him in August and then tried to cover it up. The FSB dismissed the recording as fake.
Navalny’s associates described the prison service’s latest move as an attempt by the Kremlin to keep him from coming back to Russia to continue his political activities.
“They seem to be in hysterics wondering what else to do to prevent Navalny from returning to Russia,” his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said on Twitter.