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Navalny Returns To Russia, Urges Support For Rallies

Opposition leader Aleksei Navalny wearing an eye patch following the attack that injured his right eye

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny returned home on May 11 after surgery in Spain, which he said is restoring vision to his injured eye, and quickly returned to work on planned demonstrations.

"I'm back," Navalny wrote on Twitter, while urging his supporters in a YouTube video to attend anticorruption rallies next month, which he said are planned in 147 Russian cities.

He said that a presidential decree issued while he was in Spain to tighten the rules on holding such protests would not stop the planned events from going ahead.

Navalny intends to run for president next year. He said he would continue to travel widely throughout Russia to open campaign offices.

Navalny organized antigovernment rallies in March that were Russia's largest and most widespread in years.

The activist 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, but police have not apprehended anyone.

After surgery at a Barcelona clinic, Navalny said doctors expect the vision in his injured eye to return within several months.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, Interfax, and TASS