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Russian Opposition Leader Faces New Charge, More Jail

FILE - Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny takes part in a rally to mark the 5th anniversary of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov's murder and to protest against proposed amendments to the country's constitution, in Moscow, Feb. 29, 2020.

Imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny faces a new charge that a non-profit organization he created encouraged Russians to break the law.

The charge, which was announced Wednesday by Russia’s Investigative Committee, is punishable by up to three years in prison.

The committee says Navalny’s Foundation for Fighting Corruption group encouraged Russians to “perform unlawful acts” by encouraging Russians to participate in unauthorized protests in January.

Navalny, 45, is currently serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence on a 2014 embezzlement conviction. He was arrested in January when he returned to Russia from Germany where he was recovering from what he said was a nerve agent attack by the Kremlin. Russian officials deny his allegation.

In June, Navalny’s foundation was outlawed as “extremist,” and authorities blocked multiple websites run by his network, charging them with distributing propaganda. Two of Navalny’s top allies, Ivan Zhdanov and Leonid Volkov, are facing criminal investigations.

Navalny’s allies say the crackdowns are intended to weaken the opposition in the runup to the September 19 parliamentary elections.