It looks like the Russian government has opened its first serious salvo in a quest to bring down anti-corruption campaigner Alexey Navalny.
Vladimir Markin, spokesman for the country’s Investigative Committee said Tuesday that the powerful body had opened a criminal probe into Navalny for allegedly damaging the interests of a timber company in the Kirov region. Navalny used to act as an advisor to Kirov Governor Nikita Belykh. He is now being investigated for allegedly advising the director of timber firm Kirovles to sign a timber sale deal in 2009 that resulted in a 1.3 million ruble ($46,000) loss.
The Investigative Committee has been running the investigation last year. Belykh himself has come out to support his former advisor.
In an interview with TV Rain on Tuesday, Navalny said that, despite months of media reports on the investigation and Markin’s statement today, he had yet to receive one official document notifying him of the potential charges. A lawyer by training and practice, Navalny implied that the case had political motivations, noting that dozens of cases he worked on relating to billion-ruble damages had never made it to the Investigative Committee’s attention while his case, involving just an alleged one million rubles, did.
“Even in our unjust system, it will be difficult to get something real out of this,” he said. “The main goal is to scare me or stop my activities.”
Navalny runs an influential blog and focuses on highlighting corrupt government tenders, namely through his new website RosPil. He focuses on state companies like Trasneft and VTB, winning thousands of supporters but just as many enemies.
To be continued …