Russian protest leader Alexei Navalny gets five year sentence


Russian protest leader Alexei Navalny has been sentenced to five years in jail for theft and embezzlement.  Judge Sergei Blinov said the anti-corruption campaigner had defrauded a timber firm.

Navalny has always insisted the trial was politically motivated, due to his opposition to President Vladimir Putin.

Minutes before he was handcuffed and led away, he urged his supporters to continue his struggle, tweeting: "Don't sit around doing nothing."

The 37-year-old had been a leading campaigner against Mr Putin's United Russia party, and regularly blogged about allegations of corruption.

Navalny had recently said he would like to stand for president. He has already registered his candidature for Moscow mayor.

Resigned manner

Navalny arrived at the courtroom in Kirov to hear the verdict, after a 12-hour overnight train journey from Moscow.

The BBC's Moscow correspondent Daniel Sandford said Navalny smiled in a resigned manner when the almost inevitable guilty verdict came.

Navalny was found guilty of heading a group that embezzled 16m rubles ($500, 000, £330, 000) worth of timber from the Kirovles state timber company while working as an adviser to Kirov's governor Nikita Belykh.

Navalny's co-accused, Pyotr Ofitserov, was also found guilty, and given a four-year jail sentence.

"Navalny... committed a grave crime, " said judge Sergei Blinov as he delivered the sentence.

Judge Blinov said he found the testimony of the main prosecution witness, Vyacheslav Opalev, to be "trustworthy and consistent''.

Navalny insists that Mr Opalev spoke against him out of revenge, because Mr Navalny had recommended he be fired and his company investigated for corruption.

After the verdict, Navalny tweeted: "So that's it. Don't get bored without me. Most importantly, don't sit around doing nothing. The toad won't get off the oil pipe by itself."

In his LiveJournal blog on Wednesday Navalny said: "The current authorities are not a big, healthy fish, but rather a bloated fish or Latin American toad, which puffs itself up when it sees danger, with the help of television."


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