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Russia

Russian blogger Navalny faces fresh accusations

Russian authorities have opened a criminal investigation against one of the country’s most prominent opposition figures. The news came a day before the opposition were planning to hold a major demonstration in Moscow.

Russia's Federal Investigative Committee said in a statement posted on its website on Friday, that it had launched a probe into Alexei Navalny on suspicion of fraud and money laundering.

The statement said both Navalny and his brother were suspected of defrauding a transportation company out of 55 million rubles (1.37 million euros, $1.8 million).

Navalny was not immediately available for comment, but he has denied an earlier charge, in which he is accused of stealing around $500,000 from a state lumber company in the Kirov region in 2009, when he worked as an advisor to the local governor. If found guilty in that case, he could face up to 10 years in jail.

Navalny, 36, is an anti-corruption blogger who has organized a series of protests against President Vladimir Putin over the past year. The opposition were planning to hold another major demonstration on Saturday, but this has not been authorized by the municipal authorities in Moscow.

pfd/msh (Reuters, AP, dpa)