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Russia calls for house arrest of Kremlin critic Navalny

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Russia's powerful Investigative Committee on Wednesday called for opposition leader Alexei Navalny to be placed under house arrest as he is probed for fraud.

Navalny, a charismatic Kremlin critic who came second in last year's Moscow mayoral polls and wowed crowds at mass rallies against President Vladimir Putin, is being probed in several cases he claims are politically motivated.

The Investigative Committee said Wednesday that it would ask a court to place Navalny under house arrest for violating a travel ban and committing a public order offence this week.

He and his brother Oleg face charges of stealing and laundering a total of 51 million rubles ($1.4 million/one million euros) from cosmetics company Yves Rocher and a Russian firm.

The case centres on delivery services that the Navalny brothers provided.

Navaly, who lives in Moscow with his wife and two children, was placed under a travel ban in 2012, a common measure for those considered a flight risk.

The Investigative Committee warned Navalny last month he had breached the ban by leaving Moscow several times.

On Tuesday the 37-year-old lawyer was sentenced to seven days behind bars for resisting police after they detained him at a protest in central Moscow on Monday, a charge he denied.

Russia held radical opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov -- who also spoke at rallies against Putin -- under house arrest for a year before he went on trial this month accused of fomenting mass unrest.

Last year Navalny was given a five-year suspended sentence for embezzlement over a timber deal in a case widely seen as a Kremlin crackdown on a political opponent.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140226/russia-calls-house-arrest-kremlin-critic-navalny