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14 Oct, 2020 12:23

Navalny is working with Western intelligence agencies & won’t come back to Russia, says nationalist LDPR leader Zhirinovsky

Navalny is working with Western intelligence agencies & won’t come back to Russia, says nationalist LDPR leader Zhirinovsky

Despite his insistence to the contrary, Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny will never return to his homeland – he knows he faces the prospect of jail for colluding with foreign intelligence, or for libel, says Zhirinovsky.

On Tuesday, the political veteran and infamous rabble rouser told the radio station Echo of Moscow that Navalny should be behind bars. The anti-corruption activist is currently in Germany, recovering from an alleged poisoning, but has said that, when he is back to full health, he plans to travel to Russia.

According to the perennial presidential candidate, a criminal case should be opened against the anti-corruption activist for libeling “a huge number” of Russians “over the past 10 years.” Zhirinovsky also believes Navalny is “connected with foreign intelligence services,” and that they are paying all his bills.

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“He will never come here to Russia again, because he knows that nothing good will come to him,” Zhirinovsky said.

As an investigative journalist, Navalny has ruffled feathers within Moscow’s elite circles with his exposés of corruption, which have led to him making many enemies. In his role as a social media star, his videos about the upper echelon of Russian politics have gained tens of millions of views.

Navalny fell ill on August 20, on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow. After an emergency landing in Omsk, he was taken to a local hospital, where he was placed in an induced coma. Two days later, he was flown to the Charité clinic in Berlin at the request of his family and associates. After testing, German toxicologists discovered he had been poisoned with a substance from the Novichok group of nerve agents. But Zhirinovsky doesn’t believe that record of events.

“Alexey Navalny is a cowardly man,” the politician said. “I think it was a mistake to send him to Germany. Politically, we shouldn’t have given up our own citizen, but left him in Omsk and treated him there. If it was hopeless, he would have died in Omsk. If he was cured, there would be no problem.”

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He also said that Russia should only investigate the poisoning if Navalny himself writes an official statement. “We need facts. He doesn’t have any facts. He just talks about it. This is slander,” he said.

Zhirinovsky heads up Russia’s leading nationalist party, the Liberal Democratic Party, or LDPR. As its leader since 1989, he has run for the post of Russian president on numerous occasions. He is renowned for his passionate, patriotic rhetoric and confrontational style. Over the years, he has been involved in many controversial incidents, including calling a fellow presidential candidate a “whore” during a televised debate. Despite often being portrayed as a clown, he is by far the most popular opposition figure in Russia, consistently polling four to five times higher than Navalny.

However, he has had the benefit of being inside the system, which grants him regular airtime on national TV – something denied to Navalny.

In the weeks since the Navalny incident, Russia has come under censure from abroad, with many countries discussing possible sanctions against the country. Last week, it was rumored that the European Union was preparing a list of penalties to be imposed on nine Russians. These high-ranking individuals will be banned from entering EU territory, and any assets they own in the EU will be frozen.

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