Alexei Navalny detained in Moscow Photograph:( AFP )
While the Russian authorities had warned him of an imminent arrest, Navalny had shrugged off the possibility
The Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was detained at the Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow within minutes of landing, on Sunday.
Navalny flew back to his home country, Russia, in a budget airline Pobeda from Berlin's BER airport at 1417 GMT, which was scheduled to land at Moscow's Vnukovo airport around 7:20 pm (1620 GMT) on Sunday. However, his flight was diverted to the Sheremetyevo airport within a few hours of take-off.
While the Russian authorities had warned him of an imminent arrest, Navalny had shrugged off the possibility saying, "They will arrest me? That's impossible, I'm an innocent person."
"I feel I am a citizen of Russia who has the full right to return to his home," he added.
Immediately after the news broke out, the Russian prison service, FSIN, confirmed that they have detained the 44-year-old Kremlin critic. He has been detained on "multiple violations" of a 2014 suspended sentence for fraud charges, adding that "he will be held in custody" until a court ruling, as per a statement issued by the prison service.
Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh also confirmed the news of his detainment on Twitter saying, "Alexei was taken away by police officers at the border. With no explanation given."
His flight had been diverted to another airport in Moscow after hundreds of supporters rushed to the airport to welcome back the opposition leader. A Facebook event page has also been created in which nearly 2,000 people have expressed interest in greeting Navalny upon his return despite temperatures in Moscow hovering around -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit).
His aides and associated had also been arrested by the Moscow police at the Vnukovo airport — where his flight was originally scheduled to land.