MOSCOW, March 19 (RAPSI, Diana Gutsul) - The Oktyabrsky District Court in Vladimir, a city about 200 kilometers east of Moscow, on Thursday refused to return the case against Georgy Alburov, an associate of the opposition stalwart Alexei Navalny, accused of theft of a painting, to prosecutors, Alburov wrote on his Twitter account.

A hearing on the merits will begin on March 26, according to the statement.

The painting, “Bad and Good Man,” belongs to an artist who resides in Vladimir. It was on public display when it was stolen by unknown persons, according to investigators.

The painting was found in Navalny’s apartment in the summer of 2014. Navalny refused to testify in this case.

Alburov was charged with theft and placed under restriction notice in September 2014. In November, another associate of Navalny, Nikita Kulachenkov, was charged in this case in absentia.

Alexei Navalny is a Russian political and public figure, leader of the Party of Progress. He ran for Moscow mayor and is the author of one of the most popular political blogs that was banned for promoting unauthorized public protests. He has already been given two suspended sentences for embezzlement – five years in the Kirovles case and 3.5 years in the recent Yves Rocher Vostok case.