Correspondent in Moscow
The Committee of Instruction of Russia (SK in its acronym in Russian) announced on Tuesday the initiation of a new criminal case against Alexei Navalny, the main political adversary of the president Vladimir Putin, for creating and heading an “extremist organization whose objective is to discredit the State authorities and their policies (…) and promote a violent transfer of power.”
The SK refers to the Foundation for the Fight Against Corruption (FBK in its acronym in Russian), dissolved last June after being classified as “extremist” by a Russian court. In addition to Navalni, his main collaborators are accused in the same case: Leonid Volkov, Ivan Zhkdanov, Liubov Sobol, Gueorgui Alburov, all of them currently in exile, and other members of the opposition leader’s team. He is currently serving a two-year, five-month prison sentence. If those involved in “extremist” activities are proven guilty, the penalties could reach 10 years in prison. The FBK has been the means used to expose the corruption of the Russian elite on social networks.
However, Navalni’s lawyers assure they have not yet received any notification about the initiation of this new criminal case. «The defense has not yet been officially notified of the opening of a new case for extremism. Investigative actions have not been initiated. At the moment, I can not comment on anything about it, “said the lawyer on Tuesday Vadim Kobzev.
Another pending case for “scam”
It so happens that the Russian dissident has another criminal case pending for “fraud”, having allegedly seized in a personal capacity the donations that the FBK received for its operation. There is also an ongoing investigation by the SK in relation to Navalni’s alleged ‘offenses’ to the prosecutor and the judge, whom he ridiculed for their ‘little legal knowledge’ during the appeal hearing in an attempt to avoid their current imprisonment. If the SK considers it, another criminal case could be opened against him.
After recovering in Germany from the poisoning suffered in August last year in Omsk (Siberia), the opposition leader returned to Moscow on January 17 and was arrested as soon as he set foot at the airport. It turns out that he and his brother were found guilty in 2014 of “fraud and money laundering” in a case related to the French firm Yves Rocher and they were sentenced to three and a half years in prison.
That sentence was suspended, but in February the Moscow Symonovsky court decided to lift the suspension and send Navalni to a penal colony. And this despite the fact that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) crossed out that sentence as “politically motivated”.
Putin’s adversary was also sentenced this year to pay a fine of 850,000 rubles (about 10,000 euros) for “defamation” against a 94-year-old World War II veteran, whom he reproached for participating in an advertisement in support of the reforms. Constitutional law that Putin promoted last year to continue two more terms at the helm of Russia.