Russia opens criminal case against Navalny ally

Russia has launched a criminal case against an ally of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny over accusations of violent trespassing, which her supporters deny, Reuters reported Friday.

Lyubov Sobol, a top figure in Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, was also detained for 48 hours, Navalny tweeted. He also tweeted video and a photo he said showed police raiding her home and loading her into a police vehicle.

Russian authorities are accusing Sobol and others of barging into an old woman’s apartment in Moscow while wearing uniforms used by the state consumer health watchdog after tricking a delivery person into allowing them to enter the complex, according to Reuters.

But Sobol’s supporters say she was at the apartment of a security operative allegedly involved in the near fatal poisoning of Navalny, according to Reuters.

“They are locking up the mother of a small child for two days to tell everybody: don’t dig into this case,” Navalny tweeted in Russian, according to a translation from Reuters. “Don’t dare to mess with our killers and poisoners and knock on their doors. These killers are untouchable.”

The alleged Russian FSB agent was the one Navalny said earlier this week he tricked into admitting his involvement in the poisoning and revealing details of the plot, according to The Associated Press.

Navalny claimed in a phone call with the alleged agent, Konstantin Kudryavtsev, that he was an official from Russia’s national security council conducting a debriefing and got Kudryavtsev to reveal that a nerve agent was planted in Navalny’s underpants.

Navalny is recovering at an undisclosed location in Germany, where he was hospitalized in August after he became ill on a plane leaving the city of Tomsk.

In October, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said toxic chemicals taken from Navalny’s blood and urine was related to the Novichok group of nerve agents.

A joint investigation by CNN and Bellingcat released earlier this month found that an elite FSB poisons unit of up to 10 people shadowed Navalny for years. 

The FSB has denied Navalny’s account.

But earlier this week, the State Department also assigned blame to the FSB.

“The United States believes that officers from the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) used a Novichok nerve agent to poison Mr. Navalny,” the department said in a statement Wednesday. “There is no plausible explanation for Mr. Navalny’s poisoning other than Russian government involvement and responsibility.”

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