Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny to stand trial for fraud in 'fabricated' case

Accused is known for his investigations into corrupt dealings by officials and his campaigning against Putin

Moscow

A Russian court announced that it would put the country’s pre-eminent opposition leader on trial this month, in a case that has been widely decried as politically motivated.

The provincial court in Kirov said that hearings against Alexei Navalny, who is known for his investigations into corrupt dealings by officials and his campaigning against President Vladimir Putin, would begin on 17 April.

Mr Navalny, 36, is accused of stealing a consignment of timber while he was acting as an adviser to Kirov’s governor in 2009, and thus defrauding the local budget of around £330,000. If found guilty, he could be jailed for up to 10 years. Even if he receives a suspended sentence, he would have a criminal record and thus be ineligible for public office.

He has repeatedly denied the claims and says the entire case has been “completely fabricated” on the orders of Mr Putin.

News of the trial came shortly after Mr Putin announced that all Russian officials have just two months to divest themselves of any foreign-held company shares or bank accounts. The Kremlin wants officials to keep their money inside Russia, after a number of scandals (many of which were uncovered by Mr Navalny) concerning officials who were surreptitiously keeping funds or properties abroad that did not appear to tally with their modest official salaries.

In February, Vladimir Pekhtin, a senior lawmaker from Mr Putin’s United Russia party, resigned after Mr Navalny revealed he owned nearly £1m of property in Florida. One Russian MP told The Independent that the sudden move against officials with suspicious overseas holdings in recent months has created a sense of panic inside parliament.

“Of course, people are really worried. A lot of people have property or money stashed abroad and it was always understood that that was OK,” said the parliamentarian.

“Now it seems like the rules have changed. They want to show that they can be tough on corruption too; they don’t want this to be just an issue for the opposition.”

Aware that Mr Navalny’s methods have won him support among Russians tired of official corruption, the Kremlin seems to be trying to co-opt his ideas for itself while divesting them of their sharp anti-Putin rhetoric.

It has moved more slowly with Mr Navalny than with lower-level participants in the street protests that he led against Mr Putin’s rule, which began in 2011.

There was speculation that the court case against him could have been left to hang as a threat to keep him quiet. Now, however, it appears that authorities are determined to see through the process.

Mr Navalny’s lawyers complained yesterday that the court had violated due procedure and bypassed preliminary hearings in the case, during which they would have made a number of complaints. Mr Navalny himself wrote on Twitter that the court’s decision was “trash”.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Babysitter Katie and Paul have terse words in the park
tvReview: The strength of the writing keeps viewers glued to their seats even when they are confronted with the hard-hitting scenes
Life and Style
Make-up artists prepare contestants for last year’s Miss World, held in Budapest
fashion
Life and Style
life
News
‘The Graduate’, starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, was directed by Nichols in his purple period
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: FP&A Manager Supply Chain

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Argyll Scott is recruiting for a Permane...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property NQ+

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: COMMERCIAL PROPERTY SOLI...

Argyll Scott International: Retail Commercial Finance Analyst

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Due to further expansion, a leading inte...

Langley James : Senior Technician; Promotion & Training Opp; Borough; upto £32k

£27000 - £32000 per annum + training: Langley James : Senior Technician; Promo...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines
Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?

What are Jaden and Willow on about?

Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?
Fridge gate: How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces

Cold war

How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces
Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

From dogs in cars to online etiquette, while away a few minutes in peace with one of these humorous, original and occasionally educational tomes
Malky Mackay appointed Wigan manager: Three texts keep Scot’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

Three texts keep Mackay’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

New Wigan manager said all the right things - but until the FA’s verdict is delivered he is still on probation, says Ian Herbert
Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

‘O, Louis’ is the plaintive title of a biography about the Dutchman. Ian Herbert looks at what it tells us about the Manchester United manager