Trial of opposition whistleblower Alexei Navalny to continue through May
KIROV, April 24 (RAPSI) - Proceedings in timber embezzlement case against renowned whistleblower and opposition activist Alexei Navalny will be held through May, according to the hearing schedule released on Wednesday by the presiding judge Sergei Blinov.
The case reached the Leninsky District Court in the town of Kirov in late March. The trial technically began last week, but was adjourned after Navalny’s lawyers claimed they needed more time to study the case materials. The trial has resumed on Wednesday.
Judge Blinov is going to hear testimonies of dozens of witnesses at least until next week and study written statements afterwards. The trial will be put on hold once again on May 1 and will resume on May 15 after public holidays.
According to investigators, while serving on a voluntary basis as an adviser to the Kirov region governor, Navalny organized the theft of over 10,000 cubic meters of timber. It was allegedly stolen from Kirovles company between May and September 2009 in collusion with Vyatka Timber Company Director Pyotr Ofitserov and Kirovles CEO Vyacheslav Opalyov.
The regional budget is estimated to have suffered the loss of 16 million rubles ($514,140) as a result.
If convicted Navalny along with Ofitserov faces up to ten years in prison, and will be ineligible for public office even if slapped with probation. Opalyov, who has entered into an agreement with the prosecution, got 4 years suspended sentence.
Navalny is a Yale-educated political activist. He became famous in Russia as a whistleblowing blogger striving to expose corrupt practices. He then gained recognition for his leading role in the opposition movement that rocked Russia from late 2011 to mid-2012.