Week-ending 1 January 2020
On 29 December 2020 the Investigative Committee opened a new criminal investigation against Aleksei Navalny on charges of large-scale fraud related to private donations made to his Anti-Corruption Foundation and other organisations. Navalny is currently in Germany recovering from an attempt to murder him using Novichok poison (an attempt that an independent investigation has indicated may have been carried out by FSB agents).
The Guardian, 29 December 2020: Russian authorities have ramped up the pressure on the prominent Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny by levelling new fraud accusations against him. The Investigative Committee, Russia’s main investigative agency, said on Tuesday it had opened a new criminal case against Navalny on charges of large-scale fraud related to his alleged mishandling of $5m in private donations to his Anti-Corruption Foundation and other organisations. Navalny, who is convalescing in Germany after an August poisoning with a nerve agent that he blamed on the Kremlin, ridiculed the new accusations as a sign of Vladimir Putin’s agitation.
RAPSI, 30 December 2020: A new criminal case has been launched against Alexey Navalny, according to the Investigative Committee’s press ervice. The probe is related to the operation of give foundations allegedly linked to the blogger and stealing of more than 356 million rubles ($4.8 million) from them. According to investigators, Navalny, an actual head of the organizations in question, conspired with other persons to spend over 356 million rubles for personal purposes, including purchase of personal assets, material values, rest abroad and defrayment of other expenses. Thus, they embezzled funds collected from citizens, the statement reads.
RFE/RL, 29 December 2020: Russia’s Federal Prison Service has told Kremlin critic and anti-corruption activist Aleksei Navalny to return immediately from Germany — where he is recovering from a near-fatal poisoning by a Soviet-era nerve agent — or face jail in Russia. In a December 28 statement, the prison service accused Navalny of violating the terms of a suspended prison sentence relating to a 2014 fraud conviction and of evading criminal inspectors.
The Moscow Times, 31 December 2020: A company run by Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, purportedly close to President Vladimir Putin, on Wednesday said he was pursuing a libel settlement against opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Prigozhin’s Concord catering company said in a statement it was seeking 840,000 euros ($900,000) in damages as it looks to “defend its honor, dignity and commercial reputation.
RFE/RL, 26 December 2020: The Russian Justice Ministry has expanded the list of so-called “foreign agents” to include a foundation of Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny and other human rights and health-care organizations, the head of the international human rights group Agora said on December 25. Pavel Chikov said on Telegram that Navalny’s Foundation for the Protection of Citizens’ Rights was among those added to the list. The Justice Ministry at the same time refused to exclude Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) from it. Navalny announced the closure of the FBK in July after a court ordered the organization to pay 88 million rubles ($1.2 million) over a lawsuit filed by a food company associated with businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin. But FBK’s brand has survived although its texts, graphics, and other materials posted on its site now belong to the Foundation for the Protection of Citizens’ Rights, according to the FBK website.
RFE/RL, 27 December 2020: Lyubov Sobol, a prominent lawyer for outspoken Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), has said upon her release from detention that charges filed against her are “revenge” for Navalny’s survival of a recent assassination attempt. “I believe that this criminal case against me is, firstly, revenge against Navalny, no matter how absurd it may sound, revenge on him for surviving after being poisoned with chemical weapons, revenge for his anti-corruption activities,” Sobol told TV Dozhd regarding the charges, which stem from her ringing the doorbell of a Federal Security Service (FSB) officer implicated in Navalny’s August poisoning. “And since they cannot do anything with him now, they apparently decided to take revenge on me,” said Sobol, who proclaimed her innocence and called the charges “absurd.”
RFE/RL, 29 December 2020: Russian police have released two colleagues of Lyubov Sobol, a prominent lawyer for outspoken Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, after seven days in jail. Olga Klyuchnikova, who ran Sobol’s 2019 campaign for a seat in the Moscow city parliament and produces the YouTube channel Navalny LIVE, and Akim Kerimov, a director for the YouTube show, were freed on December 29, the lawyer said in a tweet. Klyuchnikova and Kerimov were detained on December 21 outside the home of Konstantin Kudryavtsev, a Federal Security Service (FSB) agent suspected of involvement in the August poisoning of Navalny. The two Sobol associates were sentenced the following day to seven days in jail for not obeying the orders of a police officer. Sobol was also detained outside Kudryavtsev’s home on December 21 but was fined and freed.