Lyubov Sobol is accused of violently trespassing when she tried to doorstep an alleged secret agent in Moscow earlier this week.
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.
Lyubov Sobol, 33, is accused of violently trespassing when she tried to doorstep an alleged secret agent who Navalny says was part of a plot to kill him. Police on Friday took Sobol, a renowned voice of political opposition in Russia, in for questioning.
Russia’s top investigative agency said Sobol is accused of forcibly entering a family’s home in Moscow earlier this week. She faces a charge punishable by up to two years in prison, according to the information presented by Russia’s Investigative Committee on Friday.
“When the landlady opened the door, Sobol pushed the woman aside … and burst into the apartment,” the committee said in its statement.
It said Sobol and several others had repeatedly tried to gain entry to an old woman’s flat in eastern Moscow, wearing uniforms used by the state consumer health watchdog.
It said Sobol tricked a delivery courier to get into a block of flats and barged into the woman’s flat when she opened the door, adding Sobol was suspected of using violence to illegally enter.
Navalny’s team maintains that she had been trying to confront an individual whom Navalny accuses of having attempted to murder him with the chemical weapon Novichok in August as part of a state-orchestrated hit squad.
Navalny, 44, said Sobol had only rung the doorbell of the alleged FSB security service officer on Monday evening.
“You ring the door of a killer. They break down yours and take you away for interrogation,” he said in a statement on his website.
The move against Sobol is the latest in a clampdown on the Kremlin’s opponents before next year’s parliamentary election.
Sobol has been seeking to run, although outspoken critics are often barred from standing. She had tried to run for the Moscow city council in 2019, but was not allowed to register as a candidate. That dispute evoked mass protests.
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 BBC had named Sobol among the world’s 100 most influential women last year.
On August 20 this year, Navalny fell violently ill on a domestic Russian flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk en route to Moscow.
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.
The FSB dismissed accusations of attempting to murder Navalny, who said he would return to Russia hoping to capitalise on a higher profile in the wake of the poisoning case, which has raised tension between Moscow and Western nations.
Laboratories in European states Germany, France and Sweden have determined that Navalny was poisoned with a Soviet-style Novichok nerve agent in a murder attempt. Russia has denied the claim.