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Russian Opposition Leader: Government Has Rescinded Passport Offer

  • VOA News

Yulia, wife of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny, treats him after unknown attackers doused him with a green chemical solution outside a conference venue in Moscow, Russia, April 27, 2017.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said early Thursday he had been granted a passport, but later posted on social media that government officials wouldn't let him use the documents to travel outside the country.

Navalny said after denying him the travel document for five years, authorities unexpectedly issued him a passport so he could travel abroad to receive treatment for his eye.

Navalny suffered a severe chemical burn on his face last week when an attacker dumped a green dye on him and, as a result, has lost 85 percent of the sight in his right eye. He was under the impression he could use his passport to travel abroad for treatment, but he said a prison official phoned his lawyer Thursday to inform him that Navalny would not be permitted to leave the country.

Navalny had previously been denied the document over an embezzlement conviction many observers believe to be politically motivated.

"So they gave me a foreign travel passport, but have banned me from traveling," Navalny said in a social media post. "Why did they give it to me then? To use it to wrap up fish?"

Navalny has said he thinks he may be able to regain full use of the eye. In an earlier post on his blog, Navalny said his doctors suggested he go abroad for treatment, as he may need to receive a cornea transplant.

On Wednesday, a Russian court denied Navalny's appeal of the embezzlement charges that were lodged against him over a timber deal he was involved with in 2009. The court's decision to uphold the charges could mean Navalny is ineligible to run for president in 2018.

Navalny has said he believes he is eligible to run because he is not imprisoned. However, some Russian legal experts have questioned this.

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