Navalny Lawyer Calls New Russian Charges Against Her 'Revenge'

By RFE/RL's Russian Service

Lyubov Sobol, a prominent lawyer for jailed Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), has been indicted on fresh charges she labeled political "revenge" for daring to speak to an alleged security officer behind the assassination attempt against the Kremlin critic.

The case against Sobol, who is under house arrest for allegedly violating COVID-19 restrictions during recent anti-government protests, comes amid a widening crackdown on Navalny's allies and supporters.

Using her Facebook account, Sobol's team wrote on February 11 that the Investigative Committee case against the lawyer related to her December detention, when she and journalists attempted to speak to a security agent at his home.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) officer, Konstantin Kudryavtsev, has been linked to the August poisoning of Navalny, which Western countries say was carried out with a military-grade nerve agent.

In December, Navalny published a recording of what he said was a phone conversation with Kudryavtsev. The man speaking with Navalny in the 49-minute phone call, in which the anti-corruption campaigner posed as an FSB official, described details of the operation to poison him.

The FSB and the Kremlin have denied any role in the poisoning.

According to the Investigative Committee, Sobol and others used or threatened to use violence as they tried to gain entry into the apartment to speak with Kudryavtsev about the poisoning. The charges were brought by Kudryavtsev's mother-in-law.

In the Facebook post, Sobol's team described the case as political "revenge" for the lawyer not being afraid to ask questions of the alleged assassin.

Navalny was arrested on January 17 upon his returned to Russia from Germany, where he received life-saving treatment after the nerve-agent poisoning.

The detention sparked outrage across the country, drawing tens of thousands of people to the streets. At least 10,000 people were detained.

A court later ordered Navalny to serve 2 years and 8 months in prison for violating terms of his probation while in Germany in a 2014 fraud case widely considered political.

Most of Navalny's allies have been detained, fined, put under house arrest, or forced to leave the country in recent weeks.