Opening of the first campaign headquarters Alexei Navalny in St. Petersburg.Zamir Usmanov/Global Look Press
The Regional Court of Kirov (791 km northeast of Moscow) has upheld the embezzlement verdict for politician Alexei Navalny, head of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, dismissing his appeal. In accordance with the verdict, Navalny receives a five-year suspended sentence.
This means that, having been found guilty in accordance with Russia's Penal Code, Navalny will not be eligible to participate in the March 2018 presidential elections.
Navalny has been on trial in Kirov since 2013, when he was given a five-year suspended sentence for allegedly ripping off the Kirovles company in 2009, from which he had allegedly bought forest products at below market rates.
In 2016, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decided that the verdict had been unjust and that Navalny's actions were not different from those of ordinary entrepreneurs. Russia's Supreme Court then ruled that the case had to be reviewed. But the result in February 2017 was unchanged: Another five-year suspended sentence.
Navalny and his supporters often stressed that the case is political, but representatives of the Russian government deny this. The politician, who in 2016 announced that he would be running in 2018, also said after the second verdict on the Kirovles case that his campaign would continue.
Now, although the verdict has been entered into force, the situation has not changed. "Navalny's presidential campaign does not depend on the Kirovles case verdict, it never depended on it," the Mediazone publication cites Leonid Volkov, head of Navalny's election staff.
In turn, the opposition figure’s lawyer, Vadim Kobzev, said that his client would again appeal to the ECHR. Navalny's election campaign will continue - his offices are opening in various Russian cities.