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Court in Kirov finds guilty Navalny in Kirovles criminal case

Oppositional blogger and candidate for Moscow mayor faces up to ten years in prison

KIROV, July 18 (Itar-Tass) - Judge of the Leninsky District Court of Kirov Sergei Blinov found guilty opposition leader and candidate for Moscow mayor Alexei Navalny in the Kirovles criminal case here on Thursday.

“The court ruled that Navalny masterminded the property embezzlement of the Kirov regional state-run unitary enterprise Kirovles,” the judge began to pronounce the verdict. The announcement now already of the indictment continues.

The judge will announce a sentence for the defendants in a resolutive part of the verdict.

The detectives found that “Navalny, being an advisor of the governor in the Kirov Region, masterminded a property embezzlement scheme at the Kirov regional state-run unitary enterprise Kirovles, engaging in a conspiracy with director of the limited liability company Vyatka Forest Company Pyotr Ofitserov and Kirovles Director General Vyacheslav Opalev.” The detectives believe that from May to September 2009 over 10,000 cubic metres of timber were stolen, as a result a damage of 16 million roubles was inflicted to the budget of the Kirov Region.

On December 24, 2012, the Leninsky District Court of Kirov sentenced Opalev, who pleaded guilty and concluded a pre-trial immunity agreement, to four years in suspension. During the investigation he “gave detailed testimony over the details of the crime, which he committed with accomplice Navalny,” the Russian Investigative Committee reported before.

The sentencing is expected to last for at least 4 hours.

However, neither Navalny nor his supporters, many of whom came to Kirov a few days ago, expect an acquittal. Also, few believe that they will be sentenced to real prison terms. Everybody shares the view that Navalny will be given a suspended sentence.

On the eve of the sentencing Navalny wrote in his Live Journal webpage that he sees two variants of Thursday’s events - “either a suspended sentence or real prison term.” Do not excluding the latter, he and Ofitserov arrived in Kirov without return tickets. Some politicians and public figures, including MPs Dmitry Gudkov, Ilya Ponomarev, Olga Romanova and others have also come to support the defendants.

The small city of Kirov can now rightly be called a “hotspot” of opposition and social activity. Russian and foreign journalists, the number of which has exceeded 100 at the moment, began to gather more than a day ago in Spasskaya Street, where the building of the Leninsky Court is situated.

A rally in support of the defendants is soon expected to be started in front of the court building.

Reinforced security measures are being taken at the court. Throughout the night, police officers were patrolling the street.

Earlier, the prosecutor requested the judge to sentence Navalny and Ofitserov to 6 and 5 years’ imprisonment in a minimum penal colony, as well to a fine of 1 million roubles each. The defence lawyers and the defendants insist on acquittal.