Alexei Navalny becomes more popular after conviction - poll

The number of Russian citizens who have not heard of opposition activist Alexei Navalny and the Kirovles case has dropped to 37 percent in July from 49 percent in June, Levada Center sociologists told Interfax after a July survey.

The number of Russian citizens who have not heard of opposition activist Alexei Navalny and the Kirovles case has dropped to 37 percent in July from 49 percent in June, Levada Center sociologists told Interfax after a July survey.

The poll was conducted in 45 Russian regions on July 18-22 and involved 1,600 people.

On July 18, the Leninsky District Court of Kirov found Navalny guilty of embezzling funds owned by the state-run timber company Kirovles and sentenced him to five years in prison. However, the following day the Kirov Regional Court agreed to release Navalny from custody until his sentence came into force.

The number of respondents who know of Navalny has grown to 31 percent in July from 21 percent in June.

Thirty-one percent of those polled said they were aware of the Kirovles case, but did not know what it was about.

Forty-six percent of respondents said they were certain that Navalny was prosecuted in retaliation for his public activities aimed at exposing civil servants and major corporations involved in corruption.

Another 32 percent said that he was punished for his illegal work as an advisor to the Kirov region governor, and 22 percent were undecided.

Among the respondents who have heard of the Kirovles case, 13 percent described Navalny's conviction as "unfair", 17 percent as "too severe", 5 percent as "too lenient", and 21 percent said that this prison sentence fully matched the extent of his guilt. Nineteen percent of respondents were undecided.

The trial in the Kirovles case opened on April 17. Investigators accused Navalny of conspiring with another two persons to steal assets owned by Kirovles.

These crimes, which reportedly cost the regional budget more than 16 million rubles ($492,000), were committed when Navalny served as an advisor to the Kirov region's Governor Nikita Belykh. The second defendant in the Kirovles case, Vyatka Timber Company ex-director Pyotr Ofitserov, was given a four-year prison sentence.

Both Navalny and Ofitserov were released from custody pending the enactment of their sentences.

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