Russia opens criminal probe into Navalny ally over ‘threat’

MOSCOW – Russian authorities on Friday (Dec 25) opened a criminal probe into an ally of opposition Alexei Navalny after raiding her flat, alleging she threatened a man Mr Navalny claimed took part in his poisoning.

Mr Ivan Zhdanov, head of Mr Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Fund, said investigators a probe into Ms Lyubov Sobol for trespassing “with the use of violence or a threat to use it” after Ms Sobol rang the doorbell of the alleged Federal Security Service (FSB) agent.

On Monday Mr Navalny said he had tricked an alleged chemical weapons expert with the FSB named Mr Konstantin Kudryavtsev into admitting that the domestic intelligence agency had sought to kill him this summer by placing poison in his underwear.

Later Monday, Ms Sobol went to the Moscow apartment where a joint media report led by the Bellingcat investigative website last week said Mr Kudryavtsev lives. She was detained by police at the scene and questioned for hours.

On Friday police took the 33-year-old opposition activist in for questioning after conducting a raid on her Moscow apartment at around 7am (0400 GMT) and confiscated her tech devices, the Anti-Corruption Fund wrote on Twitter.

Ms Sobol’s young daughter and husband were allowed to leave the flat, said a message posted on Ms Sobol’s Twitter feed.

Speaking to AFP on Monday, the opposition activist had expressed concern about a possible criminal case against her. Ms Sobol, a lawyer by training, has announced plans to run in parliamentary elections next year.

Western governments say Mr Navalny, 44, was poisoned with the Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent in a case that has further dented Moscow’s relations with leading European countries and sparked mutual sanctions.

The FSB has said Mr Navalny’s call with Mr Kudryavtsev was “fake” but has not denied that he works for the agency. The Kremlin has admitted that security agents have tailed Mr Navalny but denied any attempts to poison him.

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