Court Upholds Embezzlement Sentence for Russian Opposition Figure

Court hears unauthorized rally case against Alexei Navalny

Russian Opposition Figure Navalny to Appeal Upheld Embezzlement Verdict in ECHR Sputnik Eugene Odinokov

The Kirov Regional Court rejected an appeal against a five-year suspended prison sentence for Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who hopes to run for the presidency next year.

The court gave Navalny a five-year suspended sentence which, in accordance with Russian criminal law, prevents him from taking public office in the meantime and keeps him out of next year's presidential race.

After the ECHR's ruling, Russia's Supreme Court threw out the Kirov court's 2013 conviction of Navalny and Ofitserov on charges of large-scale theft involving timber sales. Navalny considers the case to be politically motivated and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) called the case against him "arbitrary" and lacking a free trial previous year.

The verdict reinforces a decision reached in February, which found Navalny guilty of embezzlement and Ofitserova of abetting the crime.

Both Navalny and Ofitserov have maintained their innocence.

Not Vladimir Putin, but Alexei Navalny, a Russian opposition leader who made the joke after a not-so-funny incident last week that may leave him partially blind.

Mr Navalny and his team have argued that he is eligible to stand in next year's election because the constitution only bans those serving custodial sentences.

"Navalny's presidential campaign does not depend on the Kirovles case verdict, it never depended on it", the Mediazone publication cites Leonid Volkov, head of Navalny's election staff.

On February 17, Navalny's lawyer Vadim Kobzev said that his client had appealed the five-year suspended sentence.

However, Navalny's backers say the rules are unclear, and Russian officials have not stated clearly whether he will be allowed on the ballot. "But they're not sure about this", he said. The politician, who in 2016 announced that he would be running in 2018, also said after the second verdict on the Kirovles case that his campaign would continue.

According to the investigation, Navalny and Ofitserov forced state-run company Kirovles to sell 10,000 cubic meters of timber worth 16 million rubles to the Vyatka Timber Company at a lower price.

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