MOSCOW: Russia on Tuesday ramped up a campaign against jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, opening a new criminal case against a staunch domestic critic of President Putin, allowing authorities to hand him another decade in prison. could have given
In a case condemned by West, Navalny, 45, is already serving a two-and-a-half year prison sentence for a parole violation he says was duped to thwart his political ambitions.
His associates raided his homes, restricted his freedom of movement, or fled abroad after a court in June designed his activities to be extremist and cause social unrest.
The Kremlin and its loyalists have since said they will maintain and in some cases intensify their toughening attitudes towards internal and external critics and organizations they see as a threat to Russia’s stability.
The new case, details of which were published on the website of Russia’s investigative committee, which looks into major crimes, named Navalny as having been suspected of setting up and leading an extremist group.
There is a provision of imprisonment of up to one decade for such an offense.
Some of Navalny’s key aides were suspects in the same case and other associates were suspected of participating in the group’s extremist activity, the statement said.
The statement criminalizes the activities of Navalny and his associates in recent years.
“The illegal activities of the extremist group were aimed at discrediting the state authorities and their policies, destabilizing the situation in the regions, creating a mood of protest among the population and trying to form an opinion among the public about the need for violent change power, (and) organizing and organizing protest actions that turn into large-scale riots,” the statement said.
It accused Navalny’s aides, many of whom now work from overseas, of carrying out their alleged illegal activities after his group was banned as an extremist.
Lyubov Sobol, a Navalny aide named in the statement, said on Twitter that the allegations against him and others seemed absurd.
“Crimes of my colleagues: Participated in elections, investigated corruption of top officials and participated in peaceful protests and wrote on Twitter…” she wrote sarcastically.
She said the new case showed how afraid Putin was of Navalny, a charge the Kremlin had previously dismissed.
Navalny was taken to Germany for medical treatment last year after being poisoned in Siberia, which Western experts concluded was the military nerve agent Novichok.
Navalny accused Putin of ordering the attack, which the Kremlin denies.
Moscow has dismissed the allegations and the findings of experts – which prompted a new wave of sanctions against Russia – and accused the West of a smear campaign against it.
by Andrew Osborne and Polina DeWitt
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times