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Navalny's Problems Mount as Volunteers Beaten and Detained

Alexei Navalny Moskva News Agency

Volunteers working for opposition leader Alexei Navalny clashed with police on Saturday in the Kostroma region during a public speaking event in the city’s central October Square.

Following a confrontation between Navalny’s volunteers and local authorities, the deputy coordinator of Navalny’s campaign in Kostroma suffered a light head injury, which Navalny’s team said was inflicted by a plainclothes police officer, the 7x7 outlet reported.

Seven Navalny volunteers were also detained on Sunday in a separate incident in the Murmansk region for distributing flyers in the city center, the regional coordinator of the opposition leader's headquarters told OVD-Info.

The news came as Navalny’s legal problems mounted over the week. On Friday, a Moscow court handed Navalny an additional one-year suspended sentence, upholding a request from the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN), his spokesperson Kira Yarmysh wrote on Twitter. In February, Navalny was given a five-year suspended sentence for embezzling funds from a logging company in the Kirov region.

In response to Friday’s ruling, Navalny was cited by the Interfax news agency as criticizing the court’s ruling. “There is no objective reason why my sentence should be extended. I am a law-abiding citizen,” said. “However, extending my sentence, prevents me from running [for the presidency].

The ruling ensures Navalny will be legally barred from running in next year's presidential elections.

In an interview with CBS, Navalny said that a chemical attack in May which nearly left him blind had been organized by the Russian government.

“This attacker... was coordinated, and hired by government and administration of Putin. And we have a lot of evidence to that,” Navalny said.

The opposition leader also speculated in the interview due to air on Monday that his vocal criticism of the President Vladimir Putin could have more serious consequences.

“Well, like, 50 percent I would be killed, or I would not be killed,” he said.

Adding to the opposition leader's legal predicament, an organization whose owner is close to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev filed a lawsuit on Friday against Navalny and his Anti-corruption Foundation (FBK), the RAPSI legal news agency reported.

The Sotsgosproekt Foundation run by Medvedev’s university classmate, Ilya Yeliseyev asked Moscow’s Lyublino District Court to rule Navalny’s investigation into Medvedev’s property as “false and harmful for the complainant’s business reputation.”

The complainant asks Navalny to drop allegations that tycoon Alisher Usmanov, who is worth $15.2 billion according to Forbes, bribed Medvedev with a mansion valued at 5 billion rubles ($83.3 million).

The Anti-corruption Foundation claimed in March that Usmanov had given Medvedev a plot of land with a mansion in the village of Znamenskoe under the guise of a donation to the Sotsgosproekt Foundation. In May, Usmanov released a 12-minute video addressed to Navalny denying the claims.

“We were anticipating receiving this complaint,” FBK lawyer Ivan Zhdanov was cited as saying by the RBC news outlet. “It’s hardly possible to expect anything favorable for Alexei Navalny and FBK from the Lyublinsky court.” 

The Kremlin has refused to investigate the allegations against Medvedev. The prime minister has responded to Navalny’s report saying it consists of “absolute lies produced by a political con man.”

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