Alexei Navalny has been repeatedly arrested and detained in the past [File: Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters]

Russian authorities have opened a criminal case against opposition leader Alexei Navalny, an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin, for allegedly slandering a veteran of World War II.

The Investigative Committee, which handles probes into major crimes, announced the case on Monday accusing Navalny of criticising the 93-year-old veteran who featured in a video with other prominent Russians to express support for constitutional reforms set to be put to a national vote.

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The July 1 referendum would allow Putin, 67, to run for president again when his fourth term expires in 2024, and potentially to stay in power until 2036.

The vote on the reforms, which critics labelled

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