Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny faces new trial

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Feb. 15 (UPI) — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most ardent opposition leader Alexei Navalny could face 15 more years in prison on an embezzlement charge in a new trial that started Tuesday.

Navalny, who is already serving a 3 ½-year sentence for violating his parole on a different case, saw his trial start at the IK-2 penal colony in Vladimir, hours east of Moscow. Navalny, who has received international support, survived a poisoning attempt only to be arrested and hit with new criminal charges after he recovered.

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In the new case, prosecutors have accused him of embezzling donations to his FBK anti-corruption organization, which probes Russian government and related fraud.

“[The authorities] want to hide him from all people, from his supporters, from journalists,” his wife, Yulia Navalnaya said Monday, according to The Guardian. “It is so pathetic that they are afraid to hold the trial in Moscow.”

Russian authorities have declared Navalny’s anti-corruption organization as “extremist” and banned it this past summer. He has spent months in Germany recovering from a poison attack that his physicians there said was caused by a Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent.

Navalny has blamed the Kremlin for the attack while the Russian government has denied any involvement.

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