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Verdict for Opposition activist Navalny may be announced in June

April 24, 2013, 19:18 UTC+3

Navalny pleaded not guilty to the charges. "I do not acknowledge my guilt; I don't understand the charges," he stated

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MOSCOW, April 24 (Itar-Tass) - The Lenin district court of Kirov may hand down a verdict for Opposition blogger Alexei Navalny and his suspected accomplice, former director of the Vyatka Timber Company Pyotr Ofitserov, accused of misusing Kirovles company property as early as June, according to the schedule of hearings approved at the session on Wednesday.

The hearings will be held on April 24-26, May 15-16, May 20-22 and May 29-30. The court then hear the arguments of the parties and question witnesses for the prosecution, including Kirov region governor Nikita Belykh.

The defendants asked to be allowed to testify at the end of the trial.

The judge did not rule out more hearings: "if we don't have enough time, the trial will continue in June and the schedule of hearings will be drawn later."

On Wednesday, the court questioned Pavel Smertin, a representative of the Kirovles company which is an injured party in the case.

Navalny pleaded not guilty to the charges. "I do not acknowledge my guilt; I don't understand the charges," he stated.

Smertin said Kirovles would not file claims against Navalny and Ofitserov before the review of the case on the merits.

He told the court he had personally known Navalny since 2009, when he was an aide to Kirov region governor Nikita Belykh. Kirovles was in the red in 2009, and at present, it is bankrupt, Smertin said.

He said he had tried to explain to the Kirovles administration that Navalny had no authority to run the company as he was government advisor on voluntary basis. The contract between Kirovles and the Vyatka Timber Company had been forced, and absolutely disadvantageous to the company.

"We agree with the charges brought against Navalny and Ofitserov; we have no reasons to doubt the investigator's statements, but it is up the court to ascertain the precise sum of damage and culpability of the defendants," Smertin said.

Earlier, Investigative Committee /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. 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.

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