Outspoken Putin Critic Gets 5 Years

Protester Alexei Navalny says evidence was faked
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2013 3:03 AM CDT
Top Putin Opponent Jailed for Theft
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny listens to a judge in a court in Kirov, Russia on Thursday, July 18, 2013.   (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

A leader of Russia's protest movement has been found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison for financial theft from a state-run timber firm. Alexsei Navalny is known for using the Internet to attack corruption and the "swindlers and thieves" of Vladimir Putin's United Russia party, the New York Times notes. The court said Navalny, while working as a governor's aide, led a group that embezzled some $500,000 from the company, the BBC reports. Tweeting in court, Navalny said prosecutors' evidence was faked, and an earlier probe found no grounds for his charges. Indeed, Russian investigators suggested Navalny's outspokenness was his downfall.

"If a person tries with all his strength to attract attention ... then interest in his past grows and the process of exposing him naturally speeds up," said a spokesman for investigators. Navalny, who had recently announced he was running for Moscow mayor, is now poised to be disqualified, the Times notes. He and his wife spent much of the trial on Twitter, even after a judge told everyone to shut off their phones. "Don’t miss me. And most importantly—do not be lazy," Navalny told supporters. "The toad (of the government) will not remove itself from the oil pipeline." Click for more from the court. (Read more Russia stories.)

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