May 26 (Reuters) – Moscow’s city court will hold a preliminary hearing on May 31 in a new criminal case against jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on charges including incitement to extremism, according to official documents posted online.
Navalny, who rose to prominence by lampooning President Vladimir Putin’s elite and alleging vast corruption, said last month that an “absurd” terrorism case had been opened against him that could see him sentenced to a further 30 years in jail.
Navalny is already serving combined sentences of 11-1/2 years for fraud and contempt of court in a maximum-security penal colony, on charges that he says were trumped up to silence him. His campaigning organisations and his flagship Anti-Corruption Fund have been banned in Russia as “extremist”.
The court record said the charges against Navalny related to six different articles of the Russian criminal code including those on “rehabilitation of Nazism”, “organisation of an extremist community”, making “public appeals to commit extremist activity” and inducing citizens to break the law.
The former lawyer earned admiration from the disparate opposition for voluntarily returning to Russia in 2021 from Germany, where he had been treated for what Western laboratory tests showed was an attempt to poison him with a Soviet-era nerve agent. The Kremlin denied trying to kill him and said there was no evidence he had been poisoned with such a toxin.
Last month, investigators formally linked Navalny supporters to the murder of Vladlen Tatarsky, a popular military blogger and supporter of Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine who was killed by a bomb in St Petersburg. Navalny allies have denied any connection to the killing.
Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Kevin Liffey; Editing by Mark Trevelyan
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