[QODLink]
Europe
Putin critic Navalny charged with theft
Investigative body says it suspects Alexei Navalny of organising scheme to steal assets from a state timber company.
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2012 16:54
Navalny has been instrumental in rallying Russia's young internet generation against Putin's rule [Reuters]

A Russian blogger known for his virulent criticism of President Vladimir Putin has been charged with theft, and could be handed a 10-year prison sentence as the government continues its crackdown on dissent.

Alexei Navalny was charged on Tuesday in Moscow, dismissing the allegations as "weird" and baseless.
 
The State Investigative Committee said it suspects Navalny of organising a scheme to steal assets from a state timber company. The assets are estimated to be worth about $500,000.

As the committee pursues an investigation against him, Navalny has been ordered not to leave Moscow.

Navalny's supporters protested outside the committee's offices in the capital.

The 36-year-old anti-corruption crusader has been instrumental in rallying Russia's young internet generation against Putin's rule.

Navalny, a lawyer, led a series of rallies in Moscow that attracted up to 100,000 people after December's parliamentary elections were alleged to have been rigged and ahead of the March election that handed Putin a third presidential term.

In Russia, authorities file initial charges to open a criminal probe, long before reaching the trial stage. Navalny told reporters: "The charges are absolutely absurd."

The government embarked on a major crackdown on the opposition after Putin's re-election, which was also criticised as fraudulent, arresting some activists and using legislation to try to curb its activities.

Heavy fines

Parliament, controlled by Putin loyalists, passed a bill that raised fines 150-fold for people taking part in unsanctioned protests.

Another bill passed this month requires non-governmental groups receiving funding from abroad and engaging in political activity to register as foreign agents.

In one example of the tougher line on dissent, three Russian feminist rockers have gone on trial for performing a "punk prayer"' against Putin in Moscow's main cathedral.

They face up to seven years in prison, and human rights groups have condemned the trial, calling the women prisoners of conscience.

The probe against Navalny focuses on events dating to 2009 when he served as an adviser to a provincial governor in the Kirov region. Investigators allege that he colluded with the head of a state timber company and a trader to rob it.

A previous probe into similar allegations was closed earlier this year for lack of evidence.

362

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lacking cohesive local ground forces to attack in tandem, coalition air strikes will have limited effect, experts say.
Hindu right-wing groups run campaign against what they say is Muslim conspiracy to convert Hindu girls into Islam.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
Muslim caretakers maintain three synagogues in eastern Indian city, which was once home to a thriving Jewish community.
Amid fresh ISIL gains, officials in Anbar province have urged the Iraqi government to request foreign ground troops.