Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny, released on Sunday after 50 days in prison, announced on Monday that he is the target of a new judicial investigation for “defamation” dating back to 2016. “This morning, my lawyer received a call from an investigator from the Ministry of the Interior saying that I must present myself today as part of an investigation,” said the 42-year-old opposition figure in a message posted on its website.
According to Mr Navalny, this new investigation concerns a complaint lodged by former investigator from the Ministry of the Interior Pavel Karpov, who accused Navalny of defamation following a 2016 blog post in which Navalny alleged Mr Karpov’s involvement in the death in of Sergei Magnistky.
Magnitsky was a Russian tax accountant who specialised in anti-corruption activities. His arrest in 2008 and subsequent death after eleven months in police custody generated international media attention and triggered both official and unofficial inquiries into allegations of fraud, theft, and human rights violations in Russia.
“From what I understand, I can not be detained at the moment on the basis of this accusation, only very large fines are provided,” said Navalny. “But God knows how Putin’s complex and ingenious legal machine works,” he said.
A fierce opponent of President Vladimir Putin, Alexei Navalny was sentenced in late August to 30 days in jail for an unauthorised demonstration in January calling for a boycott of the March 18 presidential election. The anti-corruption blogger accused the authorities of sending him to prison to prevent him from demonstrating on September 9 against an unpopular government pension reform plan. Thousands of Russians, however, answered his call throughout the country, and the police made more than a thousand arrests.
On 24 September, just out of prison, Alexei Navalny was again arrested and sentenced to 20 days in prison for calling for protests against the pension reform, which was announced in early October.