Russia’s Investigative Committee on Tuesday opened a criminal case against jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and eight of his closest allies, most of whom have already fled the country.
Navalny, who was imprisoned in February for two and a half years after recovering from a near-fatal poisoning abroad, may face up to 10 more years in jail on the charges of running an extremist organization.
The opposition figure, along with the former head of his political network Leonid Volkov and the former director of his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) Ivan Zhdanov, is accused of creating and leading FBK, which was banned in Russia in June.
Navalny is accused of founding FBK in 2014 “with the aim of carrying out extremist activities aimed at changing the foundations of the constitutional order in the Russian Federation, undermining the public security and state integrity of the Russian Federation by creating an extremist community and leading it. “
Criminal cases were also initiated against key Navalny ally Lyubov Sobol as well as activists Georgy Alburov, Ruslan Shaveddinov, Vyacheslav Gimadi, Pavel Zelensky and Rustem Mulyukov for participation in an extremist organization.
Zelensky, FBK’s cameraman, is already serving two years in prison on charges of promoting extremism on the internet.
The Navalny headquarters and FBK websites, along with their YouTube channels, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook were used to promote criminal activity on the internet, the Investigative Committee said in a note.
In April, the Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against Navalny, Volkov and Zhdanov for creating a nonprofit organization that infringes on the rights of citizens.