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Russia court allows government to seize assets of Putin critic

A Moscow court ruled Tuesday that the Russian government can seize the assets of Alexei Navalny, a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin. Charges for theft and money laundering were filed [Reuters report] last month against Navalny and his brother. No trial date has been set, but the penalties include up to 10 years imprisonment for theft and money laundering. Navalny has criticized the charges as an improper attempt to silence people who dissent from the governmental authority. The seizure of assets occurred in connection with those charges. Investigators are accusing both men of defrauding two firms, a cosmetic firm and a cargo delivery firm, of more than 30 million rubles combined.

Russia has cracked down on dissent recently. In October a Russian appeals court upheld [JURIST report] Navalny's embezzlement conviction but suspended his five-year jail sentence, allowing him to walk free. In June the UN released a letter from human rights experts voicing their concern [JURIST report] that two Russian non-governmental organizations have been charged by Russian prosecutors following their involvement with the UN Committee against Torture [official website]. In May a Russian court rejected an appeal [JURIST report] by members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot [RASPI backgrounder; JURIST news archive] against their sentence for a protest against Putin. Earlier in May the EU expressed concern [press release, PDF] since its adoption last November. The law requires non-governmental organizations and non-commercial organizations to register as foreign agents if they engage in any political activity or receive foreign funding.

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