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Navalny, brother accused of fraud

Russian anti-graft campaigner and opposition leader Alexei Navalny, left, and his brother Oleg face up to ten years in prison following charges Friday that they stole $1.8 million from a business through phony shipping charges.

The Moscow Times said Oleg Navalny, an officer at state-owned express shipping service EMS Russian Post, tricked another company into signing a contract in 2008 with a shipper owned by Alexei.

The Navalnys then allegedly over billed for shipping expenses.

They’re charged with fraud and money laundering.

Alexei Navalny, 36, writes one of Russia’s most popular blogs. He said the charges are intended to intimidate and discredit him.

He led mass demonstrations during the past year against the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He was the target of another criminal probe two years ago. Prosecutors said he used a volunteer government position to force a loss-making state timber company into an unfavorable deal.

In 2010, he published what he said was evidence of a $4 billion fraud at Transneft, the state-owned giant that transports more than 90% of the oil produced in Russia.

Time magazine named him one of the world’s most influential people in 2012.

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