Moscow, Dec. 25, 2020 Russian authorities have opened a criminal case against a close ally of dissident Alexei Navalny on a trespassing charge, according to an official statement issued on Friday.
Navalny said earlier in the day that Lyubov Sobol, a renowned voice of political opposition in Russia, had been detained after officers raided her home in Moscow.
Russia’s top investigative agency specified that Sobol is accused of forcibly entering a family’s home in Moscow earlier this week.
Navalny’s team maintains that she had been trying to confront an individual whom Navalny accused of having attempted to murder him with the chemical weapon Novichok as part of a state-orchestrated hit squad.
President Vladimir Putin has denied that Russian state officers would attempt to kill Navalny, one of Putin’s fiercest domestic critics.
Sobol faces a charge punishable by up to two years in prison, according to the information presented by Russia’s Investigative Committee.
“When the landlady opened the door, Sobol pushed the woman aside and burst into the apartment,’’ the committee said in its statement.
Navalny said Sobol had only rung the doorbell.
“You ring the door of a killer.
“They break down yours and take you away for interrogation,’’ Navalny said in a statement on his website.
Sobol, a lawyer in Navalny’s team working to expose corruption among senior Russian officials, regularly hosts YouTube videos that garner hundreds of thousands of views.
British broadcaster, the BBC named Sobol among the world’s 100 most influential women in 2019.
Sobol, 33, had tried to run for the Moscow city council earlier that year.
She was not allowed to register as a candidate. That dispute evoked mass protests.
Navalny believes that a hit squad from a Russian national security agency, the FSB, tried to kill him five months ago with Novichok, a Soviet-developed nerve agent.
Navalny, 44, fell violently ill on a domestic Russian flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk en route to Moscow on Aug. 20, the plane made an emergency landing in the Siberian city of Omsk, where Navalny was initially treated.
Two days later he was medically evacuated to Berlin.
He remained abroad and says he will return to Russia when it becomes possible.
Laboratories in EU states Germany, France and Sweden have determined that Navalny was poisoned with Novichok.
Russia has denied that claim, saying it has not obtained hard evidence.