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Navalny Targeted in New Criminal Case

A day after Alexei Navalny went on trial, investigators said that a new criminal case has been opened into the opposition leader on suspicion that he and his brother had defrauded a state-owned company of 3.8 million rubles ($121,670).

Alexei and Oleg Navalny are accused of pressuring the Multi-Industry Processing Company into signing an unfavorable contract with a front company established by them, the Investigative Committee said Thursday in a statement.

This is the fifth criminal case against Navalny and the second one involving his brother. In December, the Investigative Committee accused them with stealing 55 million rubles ($1.8 million) from a local branch of the cosmetics maker Yves Rocher by also allegedly forcing the company into signing an unprofitable contract.

Navalny said he learned about the new criminal case as he was traveling back to Moscow from Kirov, where a city court on Wednesday opened his trial on charges that he stole 16 million rubles ($500,000) from a state-owned timber company in the Kirov region.

"I woke up in the train and found out that a new criminal case had been opened," he wrote on Twitter.

Navalny said the Investigative Committee needed a new criminal case to increase their chances of winning a conviction, Lenta.ru reported.

The Kirov court on Wednesday postponed Navalny's trial until next week at the request of his lawyers, who asked for more time to study the prosecution's evidence against their client.

In the other cases against Navalny, he is accused of stealing 100 million rubles ($3.2 million) from the now-defunct the Union of the Right Cause party and the unlawful acquisition of a distillery in the Kirov region.

The latest case of fraud carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison. The other cases carry similar sentences.

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