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Court upholds verdict against opposition figure Navalny

KIROV, May 3. /TASS/. The Kirov Regional Court upheld on Wednesday the verdict to Russian opposition activist Alexey Navalny and businessman Pyotr Ofitserov who got suspended sentences in the Kirovles embezzlement case. The court thus rejected an appeal by the defendants’ attorneys, a TASS correspondent reported from the courtroom.

"The court ruled that the verdict of Kirov’s Leninsky court should remain unchanged, while the defense attorneys’ appeal should be rejected," the judge announced.

The parties’ stances

Defense attorneys asked to cancel the verdict and acquit the defendants. The defense believes that Ofitserov was "convicted for actions undistinguishable from entrepreneurial activities and Navalny - for political activities."

"The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in its decision pointed to the need to either stop criminal proceedings or cancel the verdict against our clients," attorney Svetlana Davydova said, adding that none of the ECHR demands have been met.

Meanwhile, the public prosecutor asked to uphold the verdict. "Despite the defense attorneys’ complaints, the court of first instance pronounced a lawful verdict," prosecutor Yevgeny Cheremisinov emphasized.

After hearing the parties’ arguments, the court ruled to reject the defense attorney’s appeal.

The case

On February 8, Kirov’s Leninsky District Court handed Alexey Navalny a suspended five-year prison sentence after finding him guilty of embezzlement in the Kirovles case. Likewise, the other defendant in the retried case, Pyotr Ofitserov, was given a four-year suspended sentence. Both Navalny and Ofitserov were also ordered to pay a fine of 500,000 rubles ($7,800).

In July 2013, Navalny was found guilty of embezzling funds from the Kirovles company, located in the central part of European Russia, and given a five-year suspended sentence as part of the case. On November 16, 2016, the presidium of Russia’s Supreme Court overturned the sentence against Navalny. The case was transferred to Kirov’s Leninsky District Court for a retrial following a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, which said that Navalny’s right to have a fair trial had been violated.