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Russia Probes Alleged Money Laundering By Opposition Leader Navalny

Aleksei Navalny speaks during a rally in support of opposition candidates in the Moscow City Duma elections in downtown of Moscow, July 20, 2019

Russian investigators say they have launched a money-laundering probe against jailed opposition leader Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, which has worked to expose Russian officials' questionable wealth.

Employees of the foundation "received a large sum of money from third parties which they knew was procured illegally," Russia's Investigative Committee said in a statement on August 3, estimating the laundered amount at 1 billion rubles ($15.3 million.)

The foundation’s "accomplices…gave a legal appearance" to the funds by transferring them to bank accounts and ultimately to the accounts of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, the statement said.

The announcement comes as opposition protests organized by Navalny's allies and supporters were taking place in the Russian capital, Moscow. Hundreds of demonstrators were detained by police.

Navalny, an anti-corruption crusader and vocal Kremlin foe, is currently serving a 30-day jail sentence for violating rules on public gatherings.

Navalny, 43, was taken from detention to a hospital late on July 28 with severe swelling of the face and a rash, sparking fears he had been poisoned. He was transferred back to jail a day later.

On August 1, Navalny requested an investigation that includes a toxicology report and a request to see surveillance video from the Moscow detention center where he is being housed.

Navalny has been one of President Vladimir Putin's most vocal critics for the better part of a decade, through multiple incarcerations, a barred attempt to run for president, and a hamstrung bid for the Moscow mayor's post.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters