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Putin critic Navalny seeks permission to visit Sochi

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(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian opposition figure and anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny, who is restricted from travelling outside Moscow, has requested permission to visit Sochi during the Winter Olympics, according to his blog and his press secretary.

Navalny has criticized spending on the games, which he said last week had already reached $50 billion - five times more than the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Navalny, who led anti-Putin street protests in 2011-2012, has been restricted from leaving Moscow since his conviction in July of organizing the theft of 16 million roubles ($500,000) from a timber firm in the Kirov region in 2009.

Navalny, who described last summer's trial as revenge by President Vladimir Putin for his challenging the Kremlin, was served with new theft and money laundering charges in October.

On Friday he requested from Russia's Investigative Committee permission to visit Sochi for three days, partly to look at construction of the facilities, according to a posting of a document on his blog.

"He made an official request to the Investigative Committee," said his press secretary. "They should answer in about a week but will likely refuse."

Navalny's aim in attending the Games, which open in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on February 7, was to "observe what is really happening there, to check how the games are going, to see if there are some evidence of corruption".

No immediate comment from the Investigative Committee was available on the weekend.

(Reporting by Megan Davies; editing by Andrew Roche)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/140202/putin-critic-navalny-seeks-permission-visit-sochi