Navalny Targeted In New 'Extremism' Investigation

Russian investigators have announced the launching of a new "extremism" probe against imprisoned Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny and his top allies.
The Investigative Committee, which deals with major crimes in Russia, issued a statement on September 28 saying that no later than 2014 Navalny "created an extremist network and directed it" with the aim of "changing the foundations of the constitutional system in the Russian Federation." Investigators said that Navalny and his top lieutenants, Leonid Volkov and Ivan Zhdanov, are suspected of having run an "extremist network," while Lyubov Sobol and a number of his other allies are accused of taking part. In their statement, investigators accused Navalny and his allies of setting up a number of social media accounts and the FBK's website "in order to promote criminal activity." "The illegal activities of the extremist network were aimed at discrediting state authorities and their policies," the Investigative Committee said. Navalny was detained in January and his nationwide network of political offices and Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) was later declared "extremist" and banned. In recent months, Navalny, President Vladimir Putin's most vocal domestic critic, and his allies have been targeted by numerous investigations. Navalny and his supporters describe the campaign against him as the Kremlin's revenge for challenging Putin's rule. If convicted, Navalny, Volkov, and Zhdanov could face six to 10 years in prison, while Sobol and the other activists could be sentenced to two to six years behind bars. Most of Navalny's top allies, including Volkov and Zhdanov, have fled Russia.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP

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