Navalny jailed for embezzlement

Jul 19th, 2013 | By | Category: Asides

Alexei Navalny, illness leader of the opposition against President Vladimir Putin's United Russia Party, has been sentenced to five years in jail on the charge of embezzlement.

The charge was brought on claims that Navalny headed a group that embezzled timber worth 16 million roubles (around £330,000) from the state timber company, Kirovles, in his role as an adviser to Nikita Belykh, Kirov's governor.

Judge Sergei Bilnov sentenced Navalny, stating that he had "committed a grave crime". His co-accused, Pyotr Ofitserov, was also found guilty and is to serve a four-year sentence.

The news has not come as a surprise to the activist, who smiled at the almost inevitable sentence when it was handed out, a BBC correspondent reported. However, the news has sent ripples through international political systems.

Boris Nemstov, anti-Putin activist and a former cabinet minister, told BBC reporters and others that the trial was "completely fabricated from start to finish, and even the judge could not say what the reason for the crime was".

In the US, ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul, said: "We are deeply disappointed in the conviction of Navalny and the apparent political motivations in this trial."

France, meanwhile, is holding out for a review on appeal, with the country's foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot noting that "not all judicial remedies have been exhausted".

Navalny's supporters have been making use of social media to express their outrage and frustration at what they perceive to be corruption within the system. There is particular anger around the fact that Navalny had recently registered his candidacy to be the next mayor of Moscow. He is now pulling out from the vote on account of the guilty verdict, although has called on his supporters to boycott the vote.

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