Navalny faces new fraud charges
Friday, 14 December 2012 09:26
Alexei Navalny. File photoAlexei Navalny is one of Russia's most influential opposition leaders

Alexei Navalny has been charged with fraud and money laundering - the second criminal case against Russia's prominent opposition leader.

He and his brother Oleg are accused of embezzling 55m roubles (£1.1m; $1.8m) in 2008-11 while working in a mail transporting business.

Mr Navalny, 36, described the latest charges as "complete nonsense".

The charges were announced on the eve of an opposition rally in Moscow, which has been banned by the authorities.

In July, Mr Navalny was charged with embezzlement over a timber deal. He described that case as "absurd".

The anti-corruption campaigner, who has since been ordered not to leave the country, has suggested the charges are aimed at discrediting him.

He has led a number of mass protests this year against Russian President Vladimir Putin and what the opposition describe as rigged parliamentary elections.


Russian federal investigators announced that in 2008 Mr Navalny and his brother - who had been a senior official at the Mail of Russia state firm - fraudulently convinced a trading company to transport mail.

They said the shipping services had been provided at "at deliberately inflated prices", with the brothers pocketing 55m rubles in 2011.

The accused had spend most of the 55m rubles "on their own needs", but that 19m had been laundered, the investigators said.

Mr Navalny first appeared to be caught by surprise by the new charges.

"I don't know anything. My phone is on fire. As I understand, I am not enough for them any more, so they are now after my family?" he tweeted

He later described the charges as "complete nonsense".

Since Mr Putin was re-elected president in March, legal action against opposition figures has increased markedly.

A tough new law has passed on public order offences and tight curbs have been placed on non-governmental organisations.

This winter saw the biggest anti-government demonstrations in Moscow since the fall of the Soviet Union, with protesters accusing Mr Putin's allies of rigging the parliamentary elections in 2011.

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