Protest Leader Navalny Faces Fraud Charges Again

Investigators have re-opened a criminal investigation against opposition figurehead Alexei Navalny, following the publication of his online conversations with the governor of a central Russian region.

Charges of deceiving a businessman were brought against anti-corruption blogger Navalny again on Thursday after Alexander Bastrykin, the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee hit out at his subordinates for “quietly” closing the investigation.

“The whole country is saying: ‘the correspondence has been published, but we are not hearing anything except mumbling [from officials]’,” he snapped at a meeting in St. Petersburg.

An infamous hacker called Hell, who is reportedly close to the Kremlin, posted online e-mails last week in which Navalny and central Kirov region governor Nikita Belykh discuss business deals. Navalny and opposition media say the conversations have no connection to the charges.

Navalny is accused of talking a timber firm head into signing a loss-making deal by posing as Belykh’s aide.

Both Navalny and Belykh claim illegal e-mail hacking. Navalny says the e-mails were from computers seized during a police search of his home last month. Investigators dismissed Navalny’s allegations as “untrue.”

Police said the search related to clashes between protesters and police on the eve of President Vladimir Putin’s May 7 inauguration for a third term.

Navalny, the founder of the anti-graft website Rospil, spent 15 days in jail in May on protest-related charges.

Last month, Navalny was elected to the board of the state-controlled airline Aeroflot.


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