Moscow's FM accused Western countries of trying to keep Navalny in the news agenda including to influence the election campaign
Russia on Wednesday accused the West of using the "hype" around jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny to influence its upcoming September parliamentary election.
Moscow's foreign ministry accused Western countries of trying to keep Navalny in the news agenda "with the aim of interfering in the internal affairs of our country, including to influence the election campaign."
On his return from Germany, Navalny was sent to prison in February for having violated the terms of a suspended sentence.
While recovering there from a near-fatal poisoning attack, he had failed to report to the Russian authorities, as he had been required to do. Navalny blames the poisoning on the Kremlin, which Moscow denies.
In a statement issued on the first anniversary of Navalny being airlifted to Germany after falling ill in Siberia, Russia hit out at the West for trying to create an "image" of a pro-democracy politician.
It singles out Germany -- whose leader Angela Merkel is due in Moscow Friday -- for "not missing a chance to use the hype around Navalny" as a pretext for "new attacks on us."
Relations between Germany and Russia have been highly strained by a multitude of issues, including Moscow's troop build-up on Ukraine's borders, a series of espionage scandals and Navalny's poisoning.
President Putin's United Russia party is expected to struggle in the September vote. Authorities have piled pressure on Navalny's movement ahead of the election, with his organisations labelled "extremist" for allegedly plotting an uprising with support from the West.