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Oppositionist Navalny gets suspended sentence

October 17, 2013, 11:07 UTC+3

The Kirov Regional Court, having considered on Wednesday an appeal in the Kirovles case, replaced the real prison terms to Alexei Navalny Pyotr Ofitserov with conditional...

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MOSCOW, October 17 (Itar-Tass). — The Kirov Regional Court, having considered on Wednesday an appeal in the Kirovles case, replaced the real prison terms (5 and 4 years, respectively) to Alexei Navalny and head of the Vyatka Forest Company Pyotr Ofitserov, with conditional sentences. Experts believe that a suspended sentence will not prevent Navalny from pursuing a political career.

The new verdict to Alexei Navalny and Pyotr Ofitserov has made many breathe a sigh of relief, pushed up the stock market, but even more convinced the society of the “manual” nature of Russia’s justice system, the Vedomosti newspaper writes.

Navalny will in one way or another continue to engage in politics, that is, will remain a leader for the people who put trust in him. However, under the current Russian law he will not be able to run in elections with his criminal record. And in fact, according to pro-Kremlin experts, Navalny with his suspended sentence is ‘on the hook’ of the authorities — his suspended sentence may be replaced with a real prison term for any transgression any time.

The Kirov Regional Court heeded the opinion of RF President Vladimir Putin, according to the Izvestia newspaper. On August 2, 2013, speaking at the Seliger youth camp, the Russian president expressed his surprise at the fact that one of the convicts in the Kirovles case (Vyacheslav Opalev) was given a 4.5-year suspended sentence, and the second - Alexei Navalny - was given a real term of 5 years. Many experts then saw in the words of the president the beginning of the course for easing the confrontation of the authorities with the protest minority. It seems as if the current court decision confirms the readiness of the Kremlin to continue the difficult for it dialogue with the opposition.

Navalny had got a chance to become a system politician, the newspaper suggests. The prominent oppositionist is faced with a choice of either conducting a dialogue with the authorities or going to jail. Meanwhile, according to sources close to the Kremlin, there are some informal agreements between Navalny and the authorities, and this means that, despite his apparent inflexibility, he is still gradually drawn into the political dialogue and thus from a non-system politician he is becoming a system one.

Co-chairman of the Republican Party of Russia - People’s Freedom Party (RPR-Parnas) Boris Nemtsov, who nominated Navalny for the Moscow mayoral election, told the Kommersant daily that Navalny would be able to continue the political activities either with the help of the People’s Alliance party, which he is currently trying to register, or in a coalition with RPR-Parnas. “He himself will not be on the list, but people from his team will be able to get on it,” said Boris Nemtsov. “This combination is weaker, but it is quite realistic.”

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