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Russia reopens probe of opposition leader

Alexei Navalny, a prominent anticorruption whistle blower and blogger, spoke to protesters in downtown Moscow a day after Putin’s inauguration as president.

Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr./AP File

Alexei Navalny, a prominent anticorruption whistle blower and blogger, spoke to protesters in downtown Moscow a day after Putin’s inauguration as president.

MOSCOW — Russia’s chief investigator on Thursday ordered a review of a closed probe against prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny, raising the pressure on those leading protests against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Investigative Committee ran a probe beginning last year into allegations that Navalny had embezzled from a state-owned timber company in the Kirov region. The case was closed in May this year.

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Speaking at an annual assembly of investigators from all over the country, Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Investigative Committee, chided the chief investigator for Kirov on Thursday for closing the probe without informing his Moscow bosses.

‘‘You had a criminal case against this man and you quietly closed it,’’ Bastrykin said in televised remarks. ‘‘There’s no forgiving and no mercy for things like this.’’

Bastrykin also referred to Navalny’s leaked e-mails, which Navalnly’s opponents say could prove his guilt.

Investigators looked into reports that Navalny, while an aide to the Kirov region’s governor, Nikita Belykh, in 2007, could have pushed through decisions at the KirovLes timber company that caused it $30,800 in damages.

Navalny has dismissed the accusations as ridiculous.

Navalny told the Ekho Moskvy radio station on Thursday that Bastrykin’s outburst could have been a reaction to Navalny’s own petition to the same Investigative Committee on Tuesday to look into threats Bastrykin reportedly had made to kill an investigative reporter.

Hackers last week leaked an e-mail exchange between Navalny and Belykh where the two discuss financial matters.

Both Navalny and Belykh insist that they were discussing money involved in their personal businesses ties, which date back to their dealings prior to Belykh’s appointment as governor.

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