This was the moments before Navalni’s arrest

Euronews correspondent Galina Polonskaya was on the plane with the leader of the Russian opposition, Alexei Navalni, before they detained him upon arrival in Moscow.Polonskaya described the trip from Berlin, where the main critic of the Kremlin had been treated by novichok nerve agent poisoning, to Moscow, where he was arrested by surprise.

Polonskaya has assured that the press that was waiting for Navalni and his wife, Yulia Navalnaya, to arrive at the airport in Germany for their flight, they were not informed of how events were going to unfold.

They went to the plane flanked by security guards where the rest of the passengers had already boarded. Once inside, Navalni seemed relaxed joking with reporters during the flight. When a fellow traveler gave him a small chocolate bear, he humorously suggested that it might be poisoned.

Someone yelled at him asking if he was afraid of being arrested, he laughed and replied, “Me, arrested? Why should I be arrested?”

The activist has repeatedly claimed that the Russian authorities were behind the attempt on his life and various media have supported this claimBut Moscow has repeatedly denied the accusation.

According to the Euronews journalist, When it was announced that the plane was deviating from its intended destination to another Moscow airport, the atmosphere changed.

The pilot announced a 30-minute delay before stating that the plane was heading to Sheremetyevo and that it would not land at Vnukovo airport, as planned, due to a “technical problem”. Navalni told his team that he did not expect this to happen, adding: “This shows how scared they are of me.”

Supporters, journalists and riot police units had gathered waiting for him at Vnukovo airport. When the plane arrived in Sheremetyevo, Polonskaya realized for the first time how important his opponent’s wife was to Navalni. Navalnaya had been with the politician during his recovery in Germany.

“I felt that he knew what was going to happen,” said the correspondent, referring to his imminent arrest. Soon after, surrounded by journalists, Putin’s most prominent and determined enemy made a statement dismissing concerns about his arrest: “I know I’m right. I’m not afraid of anything.”.

When Navalni entered the airport he was stopped at passport control and jailed. The border police refused to respond when the opponent asked what was the reason for his arrest, simply telling him that it was a “border control matter.”

His lawyer and his wife were not allowed to go with him so, after kissing Navalnaya goodbye, he was escorted out. The activist asked his lawyer to accompany him, but the officers also rejected that request.

The Russian prison service assured that Navalni would be detained until a court ruled on his case. The date of the court appearance was not immediately announced. The same service assured that it would try to make Navalni serve his sentence of 3 and a half years.