Russia set to arrest top corruption campaigner

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The Independent Online

Russian authorities are reported to be preparing to arrest Alexei Navalny, an anti-corruption blogger and a key leader of the street protests in the country in recent months.

According to a report in the Russian media, confirmed by Mr Navalny's lawyers, the Investigative Committee will formally issue charges of extortion on Monday. The likely charges relate to claims that Mr Navalny acted inappropriately while working as a consultant to the governor of a Russian region several years ago.

Mr Navalny's lawyer confirmed that the blogger had been called before the Investigative Committee on Monday, and said he planned to deny all the charges. Usually, the particular law involved would not involve defendants being remanded in custody, but Mr Navalny's lawyers say that given the nature of the case, "anything is possible". New Times magazine said it had information that the charges would be made at 4 pm on Monday.

The arrest would be the latest twist in a public battle between Mr Navalny and Alexander Bastrykin, head of the powerful Investigative Committee. Mr Navalny released documents this week which he says prove that Mr Bastrykin is involved in business dealings abroad, and has acquired a residence permit in the Czech Republic, an EU and Nato member. Mr Bastrykin is alleged to have held stakes in several companies in the country.

Mr Navalny alleges that Mr Bastrykin did not properly declare the interests, and jokingly called him "Agent Bastrykin", a reference to a new law that forces NGOs who accept money from foreign sources to label their websites and materials with "Foreign Agent".