Navalny Faces 10 Years in Jail

Navalny Faces 10 Years in Jail

Published: August 1, 2012 (Issue # 1720)

MOSCOW — Alexei Navalny, a driving force behind massive protests against Vladimir Putin’s rule, faced a new criminal probe Tuesday on charges of theft that come amid a widening Kremlin crackdown on dissent.

Navalny rejected the charges, which carry a 10-year prison term if he’s convicted and follow the recent jailing of opposition activists and the passage of new repressive legislation.

The State Investigative Committee said Tuesday that it suspects Navalny of organizing a scheme to steal assets from a state timber company totaling 16 million rubles ($500,000). He was ordered not to leave the city. Navalny called the charges “weird” and baseless.

The probe against Navalny focuses on events from 2009 when he served as an adviser to a provincial governor. Investigators allege that he colluded with timber company officials to rob it. It follows a previous probe into similar allegations closed earlier this year.

Investigation Committee chief Alexander Bastrykin has recently chided a local investigator for closing that case.

Navalny targeted Bastrykin last week, claiming the chief investigator has obtained a Czech residency permit and bought an apartment in Prague. Bastrykin defended himself in an interview with the daily Izvestia, admitting that he bought the apartment but denying having the residency permit.

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