MOSCOW, April 24 (Itar-Tass) - The Lenin district court of Kirov on Wednesday turned down the petition to return the case against Opposition activist Alexei Navalny to prosecutors.
"The materials of the criminal case do not contain significant violations that would obstruct objective legal proceedings," Judge Alexei Blinov said.
"The arguments of the defense are unsubstantiated. The court has not seen any violations of law in drawing the indictment. No proofs have been shown that the prosecutor studied the criminal case formally," he added.
Navalny's lawyer demanded recusal of the judge.
"We are demanding recusal as we have reasons to believe that Judge Blinov is interested in the outcome of the case, directly or indirectly," lawyer Vadim Kobzev said.
Navalny's opponents and supporters staged pickets near the court's building on Wednesday, and police tightened security in the area.
Earlier, Kobzev claimed "considerable violations in the case that cannot be eliminated at a court hearing." For example, the indictment against Navalny and his suspected accomplice Pyotr Ofitserov is not specific regarding the sum of damage or precise time and venue of the imputed crime.
Also, the indictment names two mutually exclusive sums - 16,165,826 and 16,003,880 roubles.
The lawyer also alleged "a formal study" of his client's case by prosecutors. The prosecutor could not have possibly read 31 volumes of the criminal case in a day.
"Our conclusion is that neither the case nor the indictment has been studied," he said.
Investigative Committee /SK/ spokesman Vladimir Markin had told Tass that Navalny, as an advisor to the Kirov region governor, "arranged the theft of Kirovles company by entering in collusion with Vyatka Timber Company director Pyotr Ofitserov and Kirovles director general Vyacheslav Opalev."
The SK believes that more than 10,000 cubic meters of timber were stolen in the period from May through September 2009, causing a 16-million-rouble damage to the regional budget.
On December 24, 2012, Kirov's Lenin district court gave Opalev a four-year suspended sentence. Opalev had pleaded guilty and signed a plea bargain agreement. "He gave detailed testimony regarding the circumstances of the crime committed in complicity with Navalny," the SK said.
Navalny and Ofitserov denied wrongdoing.