Russia opens slander case against opposition leader Navalny

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian authorities have opened a criminal case against Alexei Navalny, the most prominent foe of President Vladimir Putin, for allegedly slandering a veteran of World War II.

The case announced Monday by the Investigative Committee stems from comments Navalny posted on social media about a video on Kremlin-backed RT television.

In it, several prominent Russians speak in favor of the July 1 referendum on constitutional reform that would allow Putin to run for another two terms. Among those featured was Ignat Artemenko, a 93-year-old WWII veteran.

Navalny’s post criticized the people in the video as being “without conscience.” The case against Navalny says the comments were “false information discrediting the honor and dignity of a veteran of the Great Patriotic War.”

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Russian officials bridle at any criticism connected to the Red Army’s actions in the war; the sentiment is especially high ahead of next week’s Red Square parade marking the 75th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. If convicted, Navalny could face a fine of up to one year’s income or 240 hours of community service.

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