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Investigations Launched Against Navalny Associates

A probe has been launched in Russia against the financial backers of outspoken blogger and Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny.

Russia's Investigative Committee said on May 23 that Konstantin Yankauskas, Nikolai Lyaskin, and Vladimir Ashurkov were suspected of election-law violations and large-scale fraud related to their funding of Navalny's campaign for Moscow mayor last year.

It said 10 million rubles ($290,000) that the three had raised from Navalny supporters via the Internet may have been misused.

Police searched the residences of the three men on May 23.

Yankauskas called the searches politically motivated.

Navalny and his brother Oleg have been accused of stealing and laundering $756,500 from the French cosmetics company Yves Rocher.

Navalny is also serving a five-year suspended sentence on a $500,000 theft conviction.

He calls all the cases against him politically motivated.

Based on reporting by Reuters and ITAR-TASS