Anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, a vocal Kremlin critic who led some of Moscow's massive 2011-2012 street protests against alleged electoral fraud and the rule of President Vladimir Putin, appeared in court on Wednesday in the central Russian city of Kirov. Investigators accuse him of heading a criminal group that embezzled about $500,000 in a timber deal. Navalny and his supporters say the charges have been fabricated to discredit him and to stymie his political activity. After a short session Judge Sergei Blinov adjourned the hearing into the case until April 24, at the request of the defense lawyers. They say they need more time to familiarize themselves with the case because a new lawyer is now involved.