President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny ignored Russian law when he went to Germany for treatment after a near-fatal poisoning attack last year.
Navalny, a longtime anti-corruption and political campaigner, was arrested in January after he returned to Russia following months of treatment in Germany for a nerve agent poisoning he blames on the Kremlin.
“This person knew that he was breaking the law in Russia,” Putin said after a summit meeting with US President Joe Biden in Geneva, in reference to Navalny violating the conditions of a suspended sentence.
“Consciously ignoring the requirements of the law, he went abroad for treatment,” Putin said, accusing Navalny of having “deliberately acted to be detained”.
Navalny was subsequently jailed for two-and-a-half years on old fraud charges and his organisations banned as “extremist”, barring members and sponsors from running in parliamentary elections in September.
Putin said Navalny’s anti-graft group “publicly called for riots, involved minors in riots” and “publicly described how to make Molotov cocktails”.
Russian authorities have also piled pressure this year on independent media, with several outlets declared “foreign agents” and US-funded Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe facing a flurry of large fines.
Putin has in turn accused Washington of “double standards” and of seeking to interfere in Russian domestic affairs.
He defended protesters who stormed the US Capitol, saying they had legitimate political demands, and said he would not be lectured on human rights by Washington.