MOSCOW Dec 14 Russia has opened a criminal
investigation against opposition leader Alexei Navalny on
suspicion of fraud and money laundering, the federal
investigative committee said on Friday.
Navalny, an anti-corruption blogger who has organised
protests in the past 12 months against President Vladimir Putin,
already faces charges of theft which he says are politically
motivated and part of a Kremlin clampdown on dissent.
The federal investigative committee, a government agency,
said on its website that Navalny and his brother were being
investigated over the alleged theft of 55 million roubles ($1.79
million) by a trading company they are involved in.
It announced the investigation one day before the opposition
plans a new march against Putin in Moscow.
Navalny was not immediately available for comment. He has
denied the earlier charges, over the alleged theft of timber
from a state company in the Kirov region when he was advising
the governor there in 2009.
He is threatened with 10 years in jail if found guilty of
the earlier charges.