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Putin critic Alexei Navalny and brother found guilty of fraud

Opposition figure Alexei Navalny, found guilty of fraud and issued a suspended sentence, arrested hours later protesting politically motivated trial.

By
JC Finley
One of the opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks during a massive rally Russia without Putin in Moscow to protest against Vladimir Putin's victory in a presidential election on March 5, 2012. UPI/Yuri Gripas
One of the opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks during a massive rally "Russia without Putin" in Moscow to protest against Vladimir Putin's victory in a presidential election on March 5, 2012. UPI/Yuri Gripas | License Photo

MOSCOW, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Prominent Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny and his brother, Oleg, were found guilty of fraud and sentenced Tuesday.

The Navalny brothers were found guilty of embezzling 26.7 million rubles ($470,000) from cosmetics company Yves Rocher Vostok and stealing more than 4.4 million rubles ($80,000) from a processing company between 2008 and 2013.

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Critics have called the charges politically motivated. Alexei, an anti-corruption blogger and critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has maintained his innocence.

The judge on Tuesday gave Alexei a suspended sentence of three years and six months while Oleg was sentenced to prison for the same amount of time.

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Alexei yelled angrily as the sentence against his brother was read in the courtroom.

The brothers were also ordered to pay a fine of more than 4 million rubles ($70,000) to the Multi-Profile Processing Company.

Oleg was taken to the Moscow Butyrka detention center until the verdict takes effect, the Moscow branch of the Federal Penitentiary Service told ITAR-Tass.

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Alexei urged his supporters to "take to the streets" on Tuesday to protest the politically motivated charges and, despite being under house arrest after the trial concluded, tweeted a picture of himself en route to Manezh square to join the demonstration.

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"House arrest -- yes," he captioned the photo. "But today I really want to be with you. That's why I'm going to #Manezhka."

A Facebook event page was created Dec. 26 calling for a demonstration on Jan. 15, the original date of the Navalny brothers' trial, to show support. Around 12,000 users said they planned to attend the event before the Facebook page was shut down Saturday at the request of Russia's internet regulator, Roskomnadzor, which deemed the protest an "unsanctioned mass event."

Alexei was arrested at the protest site.

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