Russia opened a fourth criminal case against Alexey Navalny, an anti-corruption blogger who helped lead the biggest protests of President Vladimir Putin’s 13-year rule.
Navalny and his brother are suspected of organizing a 3.8 million-ruble ($120,000) fraud involving mail deliveries in 2008, according to a statement posted today on the Investigative Committee’s website.
“These allegations are absurd,” Anna Veduta, Navalny’s spokeswoman, said by phone. “This is their reaction to the massive public support that we’re receiving.”
Navalny, 36, already faces as much as 10 years in prison over charges that he defrauded a state timber company in the Kirov region. Navalny denies any wrongdoing, calling the trial payback for arranging a series of anti-government demonstrations that began after parliamentary elections in December 2011.
A court in Kirov, 900 kilometers (560 miles) northeast of Moscow, postponed a hearing yesterday until April 24 to give the defendants time to study the case.
The latest investigation has been combined with an existing probe into a 55 million-ruble fraud, according to today’s statement. Another case against Navalny concerns the embezzlement of 100 million rubles from the Union of Right Forces, a pro-business political party that was led by Nikita Belykh, who’s now governor of the Kirov region.
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