MOSCOW, Aug. 1 (UPI) — Moscow’s Lublinsky District Court on Monday refused to change the suspended sentence of Russian opposition activist and blogger Alexei Navalny to prison time.
Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service had petitioned the court for the change because it alleged Navalny, 40, regularly violates his responsibilities under the suspended sentence.
But the judge, Lilia Dadashova, refused to change the sentence.
On Dec. 30, 2014, Navalny and his younger brother, Oleg Navalny, were found guilty by Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky District Court for the embezzlement of $400,000 in funds from Yves Rocher, a French cosmetics company, and $61,500 from Multidisciplinary Processing Company, a victim in the fraud case. Alexei received a 3.5-year suspended sentence without jail time and his brother was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison.
In July 2013, he was convicted of embezzlement of $500,000 in lumber from the state-owned timber company, Kirovles, and was sentenced to five years in a corrective labor colony. But he was released from prison the following day.
Navalny has said the allegations are false.
“We all understand, including me, that the main point of this process was soap opera-like,” Navalny said in his closing statement in the 2013 case. “It’s to make it so someone on all the federal news channels can continually mention my name as this person who stole the Kirov region’s whole forest, this crook, as if that could somehow change what I am writing about those people who are actually crooks, those people who are stealing the government’s billions from us.”
Navalny was a vocal leader in 2011 protests against the Kremlin, and accused President Vladimir Putin of running a “party of crooks and thieves.”