Russian opposition leader found guilty in fraud retrial

Navalny's felony conviction may prevent him from running in Russia's 2018 presidential election.
Navalny's felony conviction may prevent him from running in Russia's 2018 presidential election.

MOSCOW • A Russian court yesterday handed a five-year suspended sentence to prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny after finding him guilty of embezzlement, a move that will complicate his plans to run for president against President Vladimir Putin in 2018.

Navalny said he would appeal against the sentence and take part in the presidential race regardless. "We don't recognise this ruling. I have every right to take part in the election according to the Constitution and I will do so," he said.

The court also fined him 500,000 roubles (S$12,000).

The five-year suspended prison sentence means no jail time for Navalny, but the election law stipulates that those with felony convictions are not permitted to run for Russia's highest office.

Navalny declared in December his intention to run in the 2018 election, likely pitting him against President Putin or a successor candidate favored by the Kremlin.

Mr Putin has not said whether he will run for re-election.

Navalny, who first came to prominence for uncovering fraud in Russian state corporations, was an active leader during the 2011-2012 "white ribbon" protests that coalesced around Mr Putin's 2012 return to the presidency.

Navalny was first found guilty of embezzlement in 2013, where he was accused of abetting a scheme to siphon off money from a lumber sale.

In November, Russia's Supreme Court declared a retrial. The Kremlin has denied interfering in any cases.

REUTERS, WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 09, 2017, with the headline 'Russian opposition leader found guilty in fraud retrial'. Print Edition | Subscribe