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Navalny lands in Russia after his flight is diverted to different Moscow airport

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny sits in a Pobeda airlines plane heading to Moscow before take-off from Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) in Schoenefeld, southeast of Berlin, on January 17, 2021. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny sits in a Pobeda airlines plane heading to Moscow before take-off from Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) in Schoenefeld, southeast of Berlin, on January 17, 2021. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)

A flight carrying Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny back to Russia has landed after being diverted away from a Moscow airport where his supporters and media gathered, AFP journalists on the plane say.

The pilot on the flight from Berlin told passengers that it was landing at Sheremetyevo airport, instead of Vnukovo as planned.

Sheremetyevo is one of four international airports that serve Moscow.

Russian police earlier detained top allies of Navalny at Vnukovo as the Kremlin critic is flying home from Germany under threat of imminent arrest.

Navalny is returning to Russia for the first time since a near-fatal poisoning in August, in defiance of warnings from officials that they will arrest him for breaking the terms of a suspended prison sentence.

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