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Opposition blogger Navalny testifies in Kirovles case

June 17, 2013, 13:22 UTC+3
Navalny told the court that former Kirovles director Vyacheslav Opalev had slandered him
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MOSCOW, June 17 (Itar-Tass) - The defense of Opposition activist Alexei Navalny at the Lenin district court of Kirov on Monday began to present its evidence in the case over misuse of property of the Kirovless company.

Navalny told the court that former Kirovles director Vyacheslav Opalev had slandered him. Navalny said he had come to the Kirov region at the invitation of regional governor Nikita Belykh in 2009, who offered him the post of his advisor. Navalny noted that Belykh had needed him as an expert in the anti-corruption field.

According to the defendant, the governor ordered him to look into the Kirovles operation and understand what was happening there. At that time, he got acquainted with Opalev. When examining company operation, Navalny found that it had huge wage arrears and liability to the regional budget. Opalev was hoping to pay the 200-milion-rouble to 250-million-rouble debt at selling surplus supplies from timber depots. The opposition activist claimed that there had been many complaints against Kirovless about corruption and that many were not willing to work with that enterprise.

"While examining the Kirovles operation, I found out that there were no surplus supplies claimed by Opalev and that his company was unable to ship products on its own," Navalny stated.

He said he had accused Opalev and his relatives of corruption, and that their conflict entered "the open phase." For example, Opalev's son was director of the Kirovles-Prekt company to which Kirovles illegally transferred 45 million roubles.

In this connection a criminal case was opened against Opalev over abuse of office powers, but the probe was stopped for some unknown reasons, "and Opalev testified against me," Navalny noted.

He underlined he had not taken any money either from Kirovles or Pyotr Ofitserov. As for the latter, Navalny explained that Ofitserov had come to the Kirov region as he had believed in the governor's promises to provide assistance to business persons.

"I was happy that a new timber selling company would be set up and that it would pay taxes to the regional budget," the defendant said adding that he had not mediated the acquaintance between Opalev and Ofitserov and that they had interacted at their own initiative.

At the same time, Navaly used the information about the company provided by Ofitserov. Thanks to this information, Navalny "could see the real situation better than anybody and was well-versed in all the Kirovles problems."

The opposition activist explained that as a result, Opalev was fired as Kirovles director but that later he was reinstated. "After his reinstatement, I stated that would not monitor this company," the defendant said.

He noted that he "never discussed discounts or free on rail and that he had never issued any instruction to Ofitserov regarding sales at certain prices."

Navalny said his status of presidential adviser was well-known to everybody and they all knew "that I could demand documents for check but that I was not authorized to issue any instructions."

Commenting on the charges against him, Navalny called them absurd and unsubstantiated.

Earlier, SK spokesman Vladimir Markin 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 with three-year probation. 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.

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