Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny returned to Russia five months after being poisoned and was immediately arrested by authorities, The New York Times reports.
Navalny made a defiant return to Moscow after spending five months in Germany being treated for the poisoning.
Doctors said he was poisoned by a Novichok nerve agent, which was developed by Soviet scientists.
Navalny announced his decision to return despite the certainty of being arrested once he arrived.
He was detained minutes after landing and on Monday a judge at a Russian police station ordered him to be held for 30 days pending a trial for a charge of violating the terms of an earlier suspended prison sentence. Navalny’s lawyer learned of the unusual trial minutes before it began.
“What is happening here is impossible,” Navalny said in makeshift room. “This is the highest degree of lawlessness — I can’t call it anything else.”
“Do not be afraid,” Navalny told supporters after the trial. “Take to the streets. Don’t do it for me, do it for yourselves and for your future.”
Navalny taunts Putin from jail:
Navalny railed against the bizarre legal process and called for transparency while calling out Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I demand that this procedure be as open as possible so that all media outlets have the possibility to observe the incredible absurdity of what is happening here,” he told the judge.
“It seems that the grandpa in the bunker is so afraid of everything that they demonstratively ripped apart the code of criminal procedure and threw it in the trash,” he said in another video.
Supporters have rallied behind Navalny amid his arrest, with protests outside the police station and the airport where he arrived.
World leaders condemn:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for the immediate release of Navalny.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed her call, writing that “confident political leaders do not fear competing voices.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that Russia must release Navalny and “ensure his safety.”
“Detention of political opponents is against Russia’s international commitments,” she added.