Thursday, April 15, 2021

Russia opens criminal case against Kremlin critic ally Navalny | News from Russia

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Lyubov Sobol is accused of violent trespassing when she tried to step on the door of an alleged secret agent in Moscow earlier this week.

Russian authorities have opened criminal proceedings against a close ally of dissident Alexei Navalny for trespassing, according to an official statement released on Friday.

Lyubov Sobol, 33, is charged with violent trespassing when she tried to shut out a suspected secret agent who Navalny said was part of a plot to kill him. Police arrested Sobol, a renowned voice of the political opposition in Russia, on Friday.

Russia’s leading investigative agency said Sobol was accused of breaking into a family’s home in Moscow earlier this week. She faces a charge punishable by up to two years in prison, according to information presented Friday by the Russian commission of inquiry.

“When the owner opened the door, Sobol pushed the woman aside … and stormed into the apartment,” the committee said in its statement.

He said Sobol and several others made several attempts to enter an old woman’s apartment in eastern Moscow, wearing uniforms used by the public health watchdog.

He said Sobol tricked a delivery guy into a building and broke into the woman’s apartment when she opened the door, adding that Sobol was suspected of using violence to illegally enter .

Navalny’s team claim they attempted to confront an individual Navalny accuses of attempting to assassinate him with the Novichok chemical weapon in August as part of a state-orchestrated strike team.

Navalny, center, his wife Yulia, to his left, and opposition activist Lyubov Sobol, second from left, take part in a march in Moscow [File: Pavel Golovkin/AP Photo]

Navalny, 44, said Sobol did not ring the doorbell of the alleged FSB security service agent until Monday evening.

“You ring the doorbell of a killer. They break yours down and take you for questioning, ”he said in a statement on his website.

The ruling against Sobol is the latest in a crackdown on Kremlin opponents ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections.

Sobol sought to introduce himself, although outspoken critics were often barred from coming forward. She had attempted to run for Moscow City Council in 2019, but was not allowed to register as a candidate. This dispute sparked mass protests.

Sobol, a lawyer for Navalny’s team who works to expose corruption among senior Russian officials, regularly hosts YouTube videos that garner hundreds of thousands of views.

British channel BBC named Sobol one of the world’s 100 most influential women last year.

On August 20 of this year, Navalny fell seriously ill on a Russian domestic flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk en route to Moscow.

The plane made an emergency landing in the Siberian city of Omsk, where Navalny was initially treated. Two days later, he was medically evacuated to Berlin.

The FSB has dismissed charges of attempted assassination of Navalny, who said he would return to Russia in the hope of enjoying a higher profile in the wake of the poisoning case, which has raised concerns tensions between Moscow and Western countries.

The laboratories of the European states of Germany, France and Sweden determined that Navalny was poisoned with a Soviet-type nerve agent Novichok during an attempted murder. Russia has denied this claim.



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