Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has left Moscow for Barcelona for medical treatment, Moskovsky Komsomolets reported on May 7, despite warnings from officials that he should not leave the country.
The newspaper quoted sources as saying the 40-year-old activist boarded a plane for the Spanish city, while the website Life.ru posted videos, which the site said were sent by travelers, of Navalny and his wife in the airport and on an airliner.
Navalny, who has been convicted three times in financial-crimes trials that he says are Kremlin-orchestrated punishment for his opposition activity, said on May 4 that he had obtained a passport and that the Federal Migration Service had called him to say that he could pick up his passport after five years of trying to obtain the document.
He said in a blog post that the passport would allow him to go abroad for treatment of an injury suffered when an assailant splashed a green antiseptic known as "zelyonka" on his face in Moscow on April 27.
A few hours after Navalny's post, however, his lawyer, Vadim Kobzev, said a corrections official called and said Navalny should "not dare to even think about" going abroad as convicts are not permitted by law to leave the country.
Navalny has said that the latest test showed he had lost 85 percent of the vision in his right eye. He has expressed hope that it would be restored.
Navalny is seeking to run for president in a March 2018 vote in which current incumbent Vladimir Putin is widely expected to seek and secure a new six-year term.
Russian officials have indicated that Navalny may be barred from the ballot after his latest conviction was upheld on appeal on May 3.