Navalny wants to return to Russia

Alexei Navalny apparently wants to return to his homeland once he has recovered. The Russian opposition figure is currently being treated at the Charité hospital in Berlin after being targeted by what the German government has said was a poison gas attack. Is Navalny putting himself in harm's way once more? And is he willing to run this risk because he wants to increase his political clout?

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Jeshednewnyj shurnal (RU) /

A man of international relevance now

Navalny is on the point of becoming Russia's alternative leading figure, journalist Igor Jakovenko ventures in Yeshednevny zhurnal:

“After his recovery he'll not only have the chance to occupy the niche of No. 1 opposition leader in Russia, but also to become the West's go-to person in northern Eurasia. Especially since in the US and Europe Putin and Lavrov have already partially lost their status as reasonable dialogue partners. However, the massive boost to Navalny's political clout also brings a massive increase in his responsibility. Let's hope he's aware of this.”

Ria Nowosti (RU) /

So it couldn't have been Novichok

For the pro-Kremlin website Ria Novosti, Navalny's plans are proof that the poison attack theory is untenable:

“The diagnosis made by the Germans would make a return to his home country impossible for reasons of safety. But the fact that the blogger is stubbornly insisting on going home, straight into the jaws of the dragon that allegedly almost killed him, means that there was no Novichok poisoning. And that Navalny simply does not believe that the Russian state poses a real threat to his life.”

Polityka (PL) /

Fear of the Navalny effect

The Kremlin won't be happy about the return of the prominent dissident, Polityka suspects:

“Navalny now has survivor status. This will definitely strengthen his legitimacy - in the eyes of his supporters, but above all in the eyes of the hesitant and sceptical, who for years considered him a 'Kremlin project' because he wasn't radical enough and the Kremlin didn't do enough to get him out of the way. It could well be that the Kremlin fears a Navalny effect: the slow but permanent strengthening of civil and democratic mechanisms, not only in the larger cities, but - even more dangerously - in the regions too.”