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Russia Opens New Criminal Case Against Opposition Leader Navalny

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 6/15/2020 Ilya Khrennikov

(Bloomberg) -- Russia’s Investigative Committee opened a new criminal case against opposition leader Alexey Navalny for allegedly libeling a World War II veteran, according to a statement Monday.

Navalny is campaigning against a nationwide referendum on July 1 to approve constitutional amendments that could allow President Vladimir Putin to remain in power until 2036. On June 2, he tweeted that several public figures and war veteran Ignat Artemenko who appeared in an advertisement supporting the changes were “a national disgrace” and “sellouts.”

The Investigative Committee said this post was slanderous, damaging the honor and dignity of the veteran. The Russian Union of Veterans and United People’s Front had previously requested a probe of Navalny.

The opposition leader’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Navalny has been targeted by law enforcement before. He was barred from running in the 2018 presidential election after he was convicted by a Russian court of embezzlement in a case that the European Court of Human Rights ruled was unfair.

One of the amendments being considered in the referendum would give priority to Russian law over international law.

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