MOSCOW, July 17 (UPI) -- Alexei Navalny, a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and a candidate for mayor of Moscow, could be disqualified, election officials said Wednesday.
Navalny is currently on trial on charges of embezzling millions of dollars worth of lumber, and the Moscow City Electoral Commission said he would be disqualified if he is convicted before the Sept. 8 election, RIA Novosti reported. Navalny says the charges, which stem from his time as an adviser to a Putin opponent in the Kirov region, are politically motivated.
A leader in last year's mass anti-Putin protests, Navalny has promised to "return power to the people." He has also pledged to "extricate our city from the tentacles of Putin and United Russia," referring to Putin's political party.
Navalny, candidate of the Republican Party of Russia-People's Freedom Party is the sixth candidate to register. Sergei Sobyanin, currently Moscow's acting mayor, is running as an independent.