Alexei Navalny challenged to duel by Putin's security chief, Viktor Zolotov

National Guard chief Viktor Zolotov

National Guard chief Viktor Zolotov

Zolotov also admitted that corruption does exist in Russia's National Guard, but he stressed that the agency is confronting the problem.

Zolotov was responding to a recent investigation by Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation accusing Rosgvardiya's leadership of stealing at least $29 million in Russian government budget funds.

Viktor Zolotov, the head of Russia's National Guard, accused the jailed opposition leader of being a puppet of Washington and said his aim was to destabilise Russian Federation.

Navalny is now serving a 30-day jail sentence after a court convicted him last month of breaking protest laws, a move he said was designed by the authorities to stop him leading protests against pension reform across the country on Sunday.

Mr Navalny rose to prominence thanks to his investigations uncovering official corruption and has spearheaded mass anti-government protests across Russian Federation, rattling the Kremlin.

His Tuesday speech is a radical departure from the usual Kremlin policy of avoiding mentioning Navalny's name in public.

Rallies took place on Sunday in all of Russia's 11 time zones, and the National Guard's riot police violently cracked down on the protests in some cities.

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"You, Mr. Navalny, have never faced payback", Zolotov said, after rubbishing Navalny's corruption expose as slander. "And I promise to make a juicy beefsteak out of you in just a few minutes", he said in the video posted on the National Guard's official website.

Mr Navalny is now in jail for breaking anti-protest laws.

On Tuesday, Vladimir Putin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, commented on Zolotov's video that "the Kremlin does not see the address as a physical threat to the opposition".

The head of the Russian internal security agency has dismissed charges of graft and corruption made by Aleksey Navalny, calling the activist a "cloned United States puppet" and challenging him to a hand-to-hand fight.

"Sometimes, you can fight brazen slander by any means", said Peskov.

The 64-year old Zolotov, who rarely makes public appearances, took to YouTube to vent his frustration with the opposition leader.

He referred to Mr Zolotov's close ties to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, whom the opposition considers to be behind Mr Nemtsov's 2015 murder: "Because of the Nemtsov case we know how the Chechen bandits react when their friends feel offended".

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