Associates say departure of Yulia Navalnaya, wife of jailed opposition leader, is temporary
The wife of the jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has arrived in Germany on a flight from Moscow.
Yulia Navalnaya touched down at Frankfurt am Main airport on Wednesday evening on a Lufthansa flight, German magazine Spiegel reported in its online edition.
The reasons for her departure are unknown. But associates made clear that her exit from Russia was temporary and did not amount to her leaving the country for exile.
Navalny returned to Moscow with his wife on 17 January, after spending nearly five months recuperating in Germany. A team from Russia’s FSB spy agency poisoned Navalny last summer with the nerve agent novichok, while he was travelling in Siberia.
The authorities arrested Navalny as soon as he landed back in Moscow. He was remanded in custody and jailed last week for two years and eight months for allegedly violating his parole. At the time Navalny was in a coma, receiving treatment at Berlin’s Charité hospital.
In court Navalny made a heart gesture for his wife, who was sitting at the back of the room. “Don’t be sad! Everything is going to be all right,” he yelled at her, speaking from inside a guarded glass cage. She waved back.
Navalny’s video of Putin’s alleged palace on Russia’s Black Sea coast has now been viewed more than 111m times. His detention and court appearance prompted the biggest street protests in Russia since 2011-2012, with demonstrations in 180 towns and cities across Russia.
Navalnaya was herself arrested on 23 January while attending a rally in Moscow. She was later fined 20,000 roubles (£196) for taking part in what prosecutors said was an “unsanctioned protest”. Riot police have imprisoned 12,000 people, including Navalny’s top aides.
The Kremlin is considering new legislation apparently designed to stop Navalnaya from taking part in Duma elections in September. The law would prevent so-called “foreign agents” and their relatives from participating.
However, Navalny’s press secretary, Kira Yarmysh, suggested talk of Yulia running for office was a Kremlin invention. Yarmysh tweeted a column which said state media had hyped this scenario for political reasons.
Meanwhile, Russia issued an international arrest warrant on Wednesday for Leonid Volkov, one of Navalny’s senior allies, who is currently based in Lithuania.
Volkov has urged Russians to gather near their homes for a brief Valentine’s Day protest this weekend, shining their mobile phone torches and lighting candles in heart shapes to flood social media.
He has antagonised the Kremlin by calling on the west to impose personal sanctions on 35 individuals linked to Vladimir Putin. They include oligarchs, the judge who remanded Navalny in custody last month, and senior government figures.