Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said Tuesday that Russian authorities have opened a new criminal case against him for allegedly insulting a judge.
Navalny, 44, is already serving two and a half years in a prison colony outside Moscow on old fraud charges he says are politically motivated. He is already being additionally accused of “stealing” donations to his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and creating an organization that “infringes on the identity and rights of citizens.”
“My third crime being investigated by the highest investigative authority is insulting judge Akimova,” Navalny wrote.
Judge Vera Akimova convicted and fined Navalny in February on charges of defaming a World War II veteran who had appeared alongside public figures in a TV ad promoting President Vladimir Putin’s constitutional reforms. The reforms, passed in a public vote last year, allow Putin to stay in power until 2036 if he chooses to run for his fifth and sixth overall presidential terms.
Navalny faces up to 10 years in prison on charges of mishandling 356 million rubles ($4.8 million) donated to the FBK and four years on charges of creating a group that “infringes on the rights of citizens.”
Navalny joked Tuesday that “my powerful crime syndicate is growing. I’m committing more and more crimes.”
“More and more investigators are busy with me instead of nonsense like murders, robberies and kidnappings,” Navalny said in the Instagram post maintained by his aides.
His lawyer Olga Mikhailova told Interfax that Navalny is a suspect in all three criminal cases.
Navalny has faced a slew of criminal charges since returning to Russia in January from Germany, where he had been recovering from a poisoning attack that he blames on Putin.
A Moscow court is expected to hear a separate case next month on adding FBK and Navalny’s network of regional offices to a list of “terrorist and extremist” organizations ahead of key elections this fall.