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Navalny Facing Fresh Criminal Charges

Aleksei Navalny is facing fresh criminal charges after a "stolen" drawing found in his Moscow apartment.
Aleksei Navalny is facing fresh criminal charges after a "stolen" drawing found in his Moscow apartment.
The Kremlin critic and anticorruption blogger Aleksei Navalny is facing fresh criminal charges in Russia.

Law enforcement officials raided his Moscow apartment early on June 20, allegedly in connection with a fraud case.

Hours later, however, Russia's Investigative Committee announced they had found a picture allegedly stolen from the streets of Vladimir, some 170 kilometers northeast of Moscow.

In a statement, the Investigative Committee said the theft of the drawing "has brought significant harm to the author," who was not named.

The pro-Kremlin website Life News said the drawing had been "stolen" by Georgy Alburov, an ally of Navalny.

Navalny's lawyer, Vadim Kobzev, said Alburov was being targeted for publishing an investigative article on the luxurious homes of pro-Kremlin lawmakers.

Kobzev also said Navalny had acquired the drawing as a birthday gift and said the search was a fresh attempt "to put pressure on him."

Police in Vladimir said the drawing had been reported stolen by a local artist named as Sergei Sotov.

According to AFP, the crude drawing depicting a "good" and "bad" Russia was part of an exhibit displayed on several streets of Vladimir.

The case is one of several targeting Navalny who is already serving a five-year suspended sentence on a separate 2013 theft charge.

Navalny could be jailed for years if found guilty of stealing more than 30 million roubles ($832,000) from two companies, one of them an affiliate of the French cosmetics firm Yves Rocher.

He and his brother Oleg, who is also charged, deny any guilt.

The 38-year-old Navalny was at the forefront of mass protests against Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2011-2012.

In April, Navalny won a rare judicial reprieve when a Moscow court sent back another theft cause against him to prosecutors for revision, delaying his trial.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters
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