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Kremlin Critic Navalny Says Three More Criminal Cases Launched Against Him

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny appears on TV screens via a video link from prison during a court hearing in Moscow on April 29.

Jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny says three new criminal cases have been initiated against him.

Navalny said in a May 25 post on Instagram that he learned about the cases from an investigator who visited him in prison the day before.

He said one case accused him of "stealing" donations to his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), while a second case "accuses me of encouraging citizens to refuse to perform their civic duties."

The third case against the 44-year-old Kremlin critic is for insulting a judge.

"So don't think that I'm just sitting here in my cell, drinking tea and messing around," he said wryly in the post.

"My powerful crime syndicate is growing. I commit more and more crimes. More and more investigators are busy with me, and not with such nonsense as murders, robberies, and kidnappings. We thought that for this we need the Main Investigation Department and its 'investigators for particularly important cases,'" he added.

Navalny is serving a prison sentence on embezzlement charges that he says were trumped up because of his political activity.

The 44-year-old has been in custody since January, when he returned to Russia following weeks of medical treatment in Germany for a nerve-agent poisoning in August that he says was carried out by operatives of the Federal Security Service (FSB) at the behest of President Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin has denied any role in the poisoning.

Since his jailing, the Kremlin has stepped up its campaign against Navalny and his associates.

Russia's lower house of parliament on May 25 is holding the second reading of a bill that would ban Navalny supporters and members of "extremist" organizations from being elected to any post.

They are already seeking to have his foundation and two other of his civil organizations declared "extremist" ahead of parliamentary elections in September. A court hearing on that issue is scheduled for June 9.

The ruling United Russia party is facing polls showing its support at some of the lowest levels ever.