Russia opens new criminal case on Navalny

Russian state investigators said on Tuesday they had opened a new criminal case against Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

This just a day after Russia’s prison service gave Navalny a last-minute ultimatum to report to Moscow by Tuesday or face jail time. He was unable to return in time.

Navalny, one of President Vladimir Putin’s leading critics, has been convalescing in Germany after what Berlin and other Western nations say was an attempt in August to murder him with a nerve agent.

Navalny responded to the case on Twitter, saying it was fabricated and looked like a hysterical action ordered by Putin.

He is accused of fraudulently spending public donations to organizations he controls – to the tune of $4.81 million – on his own personal needs.

He said he had predicted that the authorities would seek to jail him after failing to kill him.

Russia has said it has seen no evidence he was poisoned, and has denied any involvement in the August incident, which saw him collapse on a plane before being airlifted to Germany.

The new criminal case is seen as the latest sign that the Kremlin does not want Navalny to return to Russia, though it has said that he is free to return home just like any other Russian citizen.

The Kremlin earlier on Tuesday declined to comment on other potential legal action against Navalny.