Appeal for Russian opposition leader Navalny set for Oct 9

20th September 2013, Comments 0 comments

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said Friday that the appeal hearing on his embezzlement conviction has been set for October 9, with the Kremlin critic risking a five-year jail term if the guilty verdict is upheld.

"The hearing of my appeal... is set for October 9," Navalny wrote on Twitter.

Navalny, whose strong showing in Moscow mayoral polls earlier this month proved his credentials as the leader of Russia's opposition to President Vladimir Putin, was convicted of embezzlement in July but then unexpectedly freed pending an appeal.

The charismatic 37-year-old lawyer led a well-organised campaign as a candidate for Moscow mayor, winning a surprisingly high 27 percent of the September 8 vote against Kremlin-backed incumbent Sergei Sobyanin.

A court in the northwestern city of Kirov convicted Navalny of embezzlement in an obscure timber deal in 2009 when he was acting as an unpaid advisor to the region's governor.

He was jailed immediately after the verdict but then in a surprising twist, a higher court ordered him freed the next day after prosecutors said he should be released because he was registered as a candidate in the Moscow mayoral polls.

Navalny denies the embezzlement charges and has described the case and his sentence as absurd and politically motivated.

The blogger made a name for himself exposing corruption among the elites and emerged as a key opposition figure when he roused the crowds in the mass opposition protests that rocked Russia in the winter of 2011-2012 ahead of Putin's return for a third Kremlin term last year.

© 2013 AFP

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