Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, recovering in Berlin after being near-fatally poisoned with a chemical weapon in Russia, on Thursday vowed to return to his homeland to continue supporting political opposition.
Navalny, speaking in a video filmed in a park in central Berlin, accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of being responsible for the poisoning and alleged that Putin has presided over an effort to cover up the crime.
“I confirm that I will return to Russia and continue my work.
“No other option has been considered,’’ Navalny said.
The 44-year-old has been one of Putin’s fiercest domestic critics for over a decade.
He organised several series of protests against the long-time Russian leader, whom he accuses of perpetuating entrenched corruption.
Russian authorities have conducted no full-fledged investigation into the poisoning because “whoever ordered this crime does not want it to be exposed, and I am sure that is Vladimir Putin,’’ Navalny said.
Navalny became violently ill on a domestic flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk en route to his home town, Moscow, on Aug. 20, and the plane made an emergency landing in the Siberian city of Omsk for him to be hospitalised.
Two days later, Navalny was medically evacuated on a German-operated flight to Berlin for him to be treated at the renowned Charite hospital.
Laboratories in Germany, France and Sweden have determined that he was poisoned with the Soviet-developed nerve agent Novichok.
The dissident had been in Tomsk to support opposition politicians, two of whom went on to be elected to the city legislature.
Navalny’s team has produced evidence that he was poisoned in his Tomsk hotel room.
Russian authorities have cast doubt on such claims and refused to conduct a full-fledged investigation, saying that an initial inquiry turned up no hard evidence of such a crime.