Navalny loses bid to recuse prosecutors in embezzlement case against him
MOSCOW, December 12 (RAPSI) – The Leninsky District Court of Kirov dismissed a motion filed by Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny who sought prosecutors to be removed from an embezzlement case against him, spokesperson for Navalny reported on Monday.
Navalny's lawyer Olga Mikhailova claimed that prosecutors in the case are the same as in 2013 when Navalny was given a five-year suspended sentence while his business partner Pyotr Ofitserov received a four-year suspended sentence. Mikhailova alleged that the prosecutors are interested in outcome of the retrial.
After Navalny and Ofitserov were convicted and sentenced, they filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
The ECHR ruled in February that Russia had violated Navalny's and and Ofitserov’s right to a fair trial.
In particular, according to ECHR, sentences against them were issued with numerous violations because a lot of references were made regarding another defendant in the case Vyacheslav Opalyov. The proceedings against Opalyov were treated as a separated criminal case after he admitted his guilt.
Additionally, the ECHR noted that Russian courts failed to review claims by the defense that Kirovles case might have a political motive behind it and did not provide adequate evaluations of such claims. ECHR itself did not find a political motive in the case. The court ruled to compensate Navalny with 48,000 euros of legal costs and Ofitserov with 22,000 euros. Additionally, Russia is to pay 8,000 euro to each applicant in damages.
Russia’s Justice Ministry filed a request seeking referral of the case to the Grand Chamber of the ECHR, but the request was dismissed.
Russia's Supreme Court overturned in mid-November sentences against Navalny and Ofitserov in Kirovles embezzlement case and sent it for retrial.
Russia's Supreme Court delivered the ruling taking into consideration the judgement of the ECHR.
Navalny refused to attend the new trial.
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 from Kirovles company between May and September 2009.
Investigators claimed that Ofitserov, then Director of Vyatka Timber Company, and Kirovles CEO Opalyov were involved in the scheme.