He’s been called “the man Vladimir Putin fears most”, which may explain why he’s behind bars in Russia again.
Politician and anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny has been a thorn in his president’s side for a decade.
He has been arrested several times, convicted of embezzlement twice – to stop him standing for political office, say supporters – and nearly killed with novichok.
Yet he must be getting somewhere because Putin is said to even refuse to speak his name.
On Sunday, Navalny, 44, flew back to Russia from Germany, where he recovered from the poisoning, and was arrested. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, 57, an ex-oil tycoon who fell foul of the Kremlin, says the arrest was an attempt by Putin to remind citizens he is still in charge.
He said: “Putin feels he has to show he is the main animal in the herd or… people will believe he is no longer the top dog.”
But Navalny has managed to turn the spotlight back on Russia.
His arrest has sparked criticism from Western gov-ernments, including our own.
Navalny was yesterday re- manded for violating the terms of a suspended jail sentence.
The Kremlin says he must face justice and that the West should keep out of the case.
Who is he?
Navalny is the most outspoken critic of the Kremlin and has branded Russia’s ruling party “crooks and thieves”.
His Progress Party and Anti-Corruption Federation are loathed by Putin.
And his 2018 presidential election bid was blocked by the Russian judiciary.
But he has millions of followers – and was last year nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Why was he not in the country?
When Navalny fell ill on a flight in August, wife Yulia demanded he be treated in Germany – where scientists found Russian nerve agent novichok in his system.
An investigative journalist at Bellingcat found a stack of evidence that three FSB agents poisoned him.
But Russia denies it.
What happened on Sunday?
Thousands of supporters were waiting for Navalny on Sunday when he was supposed to fly into Vnukovo airport, near Moscow.
But the authorities announced a “technical problem” so the plane was diverted to the capital’s Sheremetyevo airport.
Navalny was taken to a Moscow police station after his arrest for allegedly violating an embezzlement sentence.
But he may also face new fraud charges.
Why has he returned to Russia?
He is showing he cares more about his country than his own welfare and, crucially, that he is not scared of Putin.
Navalny’s recovery from state poisoning is an affront to the president’s iron grip.
As the main opposition figurehead, he knows he is possibly the only person who can convince Russia Putin is corrupt and to back him.
And now, with a wave of global revulsion against Putin, the president’s next move against Navalny will be watched very carefully.
What has been the international response?
The UK led the criticism.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab described Navalny’s arrest as “appalling”.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Kremlin was trying to silence critics and incoming national security adviser Jake Sullivan said it was “a violation”.
France, Italy and Germany have also called for his release.
What will happen to him now?
Navalny could simply face a decade behind bars, but he may have cleverly out-manoeuvred Putin and re-energised the opposition.
If he is killed in jail it could spark an uprising from his millions of supporters.
But Putin may calculate there is nothing to stop him ordering his judiciary to make Navalny disappear within the Russian penal system for an even longer period – or worse.