Russia attacks Navalny on new charges that could be added to prison term


Moscow — Russian officials announced new criminal charges against the Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on Wednesday. This is the latest move in the crackdown prior to the September parliamentary elections, and his imprisonment could be as long as three years.

President Vladimir Putin’s most fierce domestic critic, Navalny, has been sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for a parole breach he claims to have beaten. He was arrested after returning from Germany after recovering from nerve gas addiction.

In a statement, the investigative commission investigating serious crimes said Navalny was charged with creating an organization that “violates the personality and rights of citizens.”

That length of imprisonment could continue to detain Navalny beyond the next presidential election in 2024, which is expected to end Putin’s current six-year term in Kremlin.

The investigative commission said the Navalny Anti-Corruption Foundation urged Russians to break the law and participate in unauthorized protests demanding their release in January, which authorities said were illegal.

Navalny and his allies have faced pressure for years, but his political network went into June after the court officially labeled his anti-Corruption Foundation and regional campaign groups as extremists. Has been outlawed.

Some of his closest allies left the country for fear of prosecution, and his team also disbanded their regional group to protect activists.

An ally posting on social media under the name Team Nawarney described the accusations as “the latest nonsensical accusations.”

“No one infringes on the personality and rights of citizens like Putin himself and all his subordinates, including the investigative commission,” they said in Telegram Messenger.

The investigative commission on Tuesday will be charged the day after announcing a new criminal investigation into two close overseas-based Navalny allies for raising funds for his political network.

On Sunday, Russian media reported that Navalny’s close companion Lyubov Sobol had left Russia for Turkey. She has not commented on her whereabouts, and her allies have declined to comment.

Tom Balmforce and Anton Zverev