Russian authorities on Tuesday launched a fraud investigation into leading government critic Alexei Navalny, alleging that he spent nearly $5 million in donations to his various organizations on himself, according to reports.
The Russian Investigative Committee on Tuesday alleged that Navalny embezzled about 356 million rubles — around $4.8 million — in donations to his Anti-Corruption Foundation and other groups he helms, independent Russian outlet Meduza reported, citing the Russian-language, state-run RIA Novosti.
Navalny and unidentified alleged co-conspirators are accused of putting those funds toward “acquiring personal property and material assets, and paying expenses (including vacations abroad),” the report stated.
“Thus, the funds collected from citizens were stolen,” the Investigative Committee reportedly concluded its statement.
In an apparent response to the charges, Navalny wrote on Twitter, “[Russian President Vladimir] Putin seems to be simply hysterical,” according to a translation by the outlet.
The Kremlin has denied being behind the initial poisoning of Navalny — possibly perpetrated with a tainted Negroni — as well as a second attempt on his life while he lay in a coma.
In denying the charges, Putin said earlier this month that had Russian agents been responsible for the attempted hit, “they would’ve probably finished it.”
Navalny has said that he believes Putin has it in for him because he announced an opposing run for president in 2018.
He released a recording last week claiming to have tricked a Russian spy into admitting to the attempted assassination.
The next day, Putin signed a law granting ex-presidents and their families broad protections from prosecution.