Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, is facing accusations of illegally receiving foreign funding over his campaign bid as Moscow mayor. Navalny was criticized for receiving funds aimed at ousting acting Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, in an election set for next month, Reuters reported on Monday. The allegations were initiated by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, which often supports Putin’s policies.
“Checks have confirmed information about foreign funding of A. Navalny’s election campaign,” the Prosecutor General's office said, adding that at least 300 foreign individuals or entities had contributed to his funding.Navalny said that the allegations were an attempt to discredit him, and that all donations had come from Russian citizens of which some could be living abroad or on holiday outside Russia. “Our campaign is the most transparent in terms of financing,” Navalny said, while labeling state prosecutors as “dullards.” Foreign funding is banned under Russian election law and if the allegations are confirmed, Navalny could face criminal charges. On July 18, Navalny was sentenced to five years in prison by a Kirov court for embezzling 16 million rubles (USD 500,000) worth of timber from the Kirovles state timber company and triggering anti-government protests in 2011 and 2012. However, a day after the sentencing, he was released by a higher court who said that if Navalny remained in prison, it would “limit his right to be elected.” Navalny is known for openly criticizing the government of President Vladimir Putin. He has been involved in organizing numerous anti-government protest rallies in the country in recent years. GMA/PR