Thursday, May 16, 2013

Navalny Trial Continues

At the fifth hearing in the embezzlement case against opposition blogger Alexei Navalny on Wednesday, a Kirov official said Navalny could not have organized the theft of timber that he is accused of because he did not have the authority to do so. The alleged embezzlement scheme involves a company called VLK LTD, which was co-founded by Navalny and his co-defendant, Pyotr Ofitserov. Prosecutors say the company pressured the heads of logging companies into selling timber at below-market prices. Sergei Shcherchkov, first deputy head of the Kirov region, testified at the Leninsky District Court that he had never seen Navalny pressure any heads of forestry enterprises into disadvantageous contracts or heard any complaints about Navalny, RBC reported. Navalny is currently standing trial in Kirov on charges of embezzling 16 million rubles ($500,000) worth of timber from the state-owned company KirovLes while working as an adviser to regional governor Nikita Belykh in 2009. Navalny faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted and would be barred from running for political office in the future, an ambition he has previously expressed. Unusually, the trial is broadcast online.

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