Russian investigators have charged protest leader Alexei Navalny with theft, threatening one of president Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken opponents with a 10-year jail sentence.
The allegations relate to the theft of timber from a state firm in 2009, while he was advising a regional governor.
Navalny has described the charges as “absurd” and insists he has been framed. He has now been barred from leaving Russia.
It follows a series of moves since Putin began a new six-year term as president in May, which opponents depict as a crackdown on dissent.
On Tuesday, three members of the Pussy Riot punk band appeared in court for the second day of their trial.
The feminist rockers are in the dock after performing a ‘punk prayer’ in Moscow’s main cathedral, a song which criticised Putin’s return to the presidency. They deny the hooliganism charges against them.
Commenting on their case, Navalny said: “What is happening in the court there has nothing to do with the law. They should not have been arrested. What’s happening reminds me of the Middle Ages.”