Russia opposition leader organizes rallies after eye surgery
Posted May 11
MOSCOW — Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny returned home Thursday after surgery in Spain to fix his eye that was damaged in an attack and immediately roused his supporters to action.
Navalny suffered a severe chemical burn in his right eye last month when an attacker doused him with green antiseptic. His supporters identified the attacker as a pro-government activist. Police have failed to track him down.
Navalny urged his supporters in a YouTube video broadcast Thursday to attend anti-corruption rallies next month. He said the demonstrations are planned in 147 Russian cities.
The charismatic opposition leader intends to run for president next year. He said he would continue to travel widely to open his campaign offices.
Navalny shot to prominence with his investigations into official corruption and was a key driving force behind massive anti-Kremlin protests in Moscow in 2011-2012.
He also organized anti-government rallies in March, Russia's largest and most widespread in years.
Until his medical trip to Spain, Navalny had been denied travel documents for five years. He is serving a five-year suspended sentence in a dubious embezzlement case.
He said Thursday that after his Moscow doctor strongly recommended he to travel abroad for eye surgery, he wrote to Kremlin human rights council chief Mikhail Fedotov to demand that authorities issue him a passport.
On Fedotov's advice, he then sent the same request to Kremlin chief of staff Anton Vaino. Navalny said he also applied for a passport and received one the next day.
Navalny, who was operated on at a Barcelona clinic, said doctors expect the vision in his injured eye to be restored in several months.