The Zamoskvoretsky Court of Moscow will hold a hearing on Thursday into the criminal case opened against Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny and his brother Oleg, who have been accused of money laundering and defrauding a Russian subsidiary of the French cosmetics company Yves Rocher out of about 26 million rubles ($729,000).
Court Judge Yelena Korobchenko is expected to preside over the preliminary hearing, during which the sides will be able to discuss different procedural issues and file their requests.
Following the court session, which will be held behind closed doors, a date for the beginning of the trial will be set and decisions will be issued concerning the submitted requests.
A source familiar with the situation told Interfax on April 22 that the Prosecutor's Office could ask the court on Thursday to replace Navalny's house arrest by a custodial term.
On April 22, Navalny said in a statement, published on social networking websites, that he had violated his house arrest restrictions in order to comment on the Yves Rocher case.
Navalny claimed innocence and posted documents from the criminal case, indicating that following an expert assessment Yves Rocher acknowledged that it suffered no damage from the suspects' actions.
Navalny also asked his supporters to stand by him.
The Russian Federal Penitentiary Institutions Service said on the same day that it would assess the activist's compliance with his house arrest conditions.
The Navalny brothers are suspected of having fraudulently stolen over 26.7 million rubles from Yves Rocher Vostok and over 4.4 million rubles from Mnogoprofilnaya Protsessingovaya Kompaniya, according to the preliminary inquiry. These funds were subsequently legalized by ways of transferring them on fictitious grounds to Kobyakovskaya Fabrika Po Lozopleteniyu, controlled by them and their relatives.
Currently Alexei is under house arrest and his brother Oleg is banned from traveling.
Alexei Navalny was given a suspended sentence in the Kirovles case. On July 18, 2013, the Leninsky district of Kirov sentenced him to five years of imprisonment for stealing from this enterprise. However, the following day he was released on travel restrictions until the effective date of the verdict. On October 16, the Kirov regional court replaced the prison term with a suspended sentence.
Furthermore, on April 22 the Justice's Court of Moscow's Babushkinsky District fined Alexei Navalny 300,000 rubles under the libel suit, filed by a municipal legislature member, Alexei Lisovenko. This verdict has not yet come into force.
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