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New Charges Against Navalny Announced


Opposition leader Aleksei Navalny (file photo)

Opposition leader Aleksei Navalny (file photo)

Russia's top investigative body says it has filed new theft and money-laundering charges against opposition leader Aleksei Navalny.

The Investigative Committee said in a statement on October 29 that Navalny and his brother, Oleg, are accused of stealing more than 26 million rubles ($816,000) from a branch of the French cosmetics company Yves Rocher by charging an excessive price for shipping services.

If found guilty, the Navalny brothers may face up to 10 years in prison.

The authorities' latest move puts additional pressure on Navalny, a 37-year-old lawyer who has emerged as Russia's most popular opposition figure. Navalny strongly rejected the new charges, calling them "absurd."

Writing on his blog, Navalny said, "In a sense, it's good news. It shows that we are doing the right thing and they are afraid of us."

In July, Navalny was convicted of embezzlement in a separate case, but a court suspended his five-year sentence earlier this month.

Navalny won 27 percent of Moscow's mayoral vote in September, finishing second behind the Kremlin-backed incumbent. The result consolidated his position as Russia's top opposition leader.

Under Russian law, the existing conviction prevents Navalny from running for political office for life. However, Navalny has shown no sign of slowing down his political activism.

Navalny first came to prominence with investigations of official corruption on his blog, which quickly became extremely popular on the Internet. He has more than 400,000 followers on Twitter.

In the winter of 2011-2012, Navalny was a driving force behind a series of opposition protests against Vladimir Putin's return to Russia's presidency, which drew tens of thousands of people to the streets of Moscow.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and Interfax
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