An ally of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny went on trial in Russia on Monday, accused of having created an "extremist organisation", a court spokeswoman told AFP.

 

The trial is the latest in a series of cases brought against vocal critics of the Kremlin, a crackdown that intensified after Russian launched large-scale hostilities in Ukraine last year.

 

Ksenia Fadeyeva, 31, is a former local deputy in the Siberian city of Tomsk who was added to Russia's "terrorist" list in January 2022.

 

She headed Navalny's political office in Tomsk, where the opposition leader was poisoned with Novichok in August 2020 on a visit ahead of elections.

 

Fadeyeva's legal team on Monday requested at least 10 days to study court documents compiled in 90 separate volumes, but the judge postponed by one day only, local media reported.

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Fadeyeva was elected to the Tomsk city legislature in 2020 along with other independent activists in Siberia, a move hailed as a victory for the Russian opposition against President Vladimir Putin's rule.

 

The local elections came a year ahead of parliamentary polls and were seen as a blow to the Kremlin, as the ruling party faced sinking popularity and simmering public anger over economic woes.

 

But in 2021, Navalny's political offices were designated "extremist organisations", putting employees, volunteers and supporters at risk of prosecution.

 

Many of his allies have left Russia, though Fadeyeva refused to flee and was detained in December 2021 on charges of organising "an extremist" group.

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