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Alexei Navalny says he faces new criminal charges in Russia

The charges could extend his current nine-year prison term.

Image: PA

RUSSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER Alexei Navalny has said he is facing new criminal accusations that could extend his current nine-year prison term.

Navalny said on Instagram that an investigator visited him in prison to say the authorities had opened a new investigation against him on charges of “creating an extremist group to fan hatred against officials and oligarchs” and trying to stage unsanctioned rallies.

He said that the charges could keep him in prison for another 15 years if he is convicted.

Navalny, the most determined political opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was arrested in January 2021 on return from Germany and handed a two-and-a-half-year sentence for a parole violation.

He had been recuperating in Germany from nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin.

In March, he was sentenced to nine years on fraud and contempt of court charges.

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He rejected the charges as politically motivated, a move that signalled an attempt by the authorities to keep him behind bars for as long as possible.

The new sentence followed a year-long Kremlin crackdown on his supporters, other opposition activists and independent journalists in which authorities appear eager to stifle all dissent.

Navalny’s close associates have faced criminal charges and left the country, and his group’s political infrastructure — an anti-corruption foundation and a nationwide network of regional offices — has been destroyed after being labelled an extremist organisation.

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