Court upholds sentence against Russian activist Alexei Navalny

May 3 (UPI) — A Russian court in Korov on Wednesday upheld the suspended five-year sentence for opposition activist Alexei Navalny, who was attacked last week in the face with a green antiseptic for the second time.

Navalny is a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and is running in next year’s presidential election. Navalny said only those actually in prison are banned by the Constitution from seeking political office.

The appeal was for Navalny’s conviction of embezzlement from the Kirovles timber company in 2013.

“The court ruled that the verdict of Kirov’s Leninsky court should remain unchanged, while the defense attorneys’ appeal should be rejected,” the judge announced in ruling against Nalalny and businessman Pyotr Ofitserov.

On Feb. 8, Kirov’s Leninsky District Court handed Navalny a suspended five-year prison sentence after finding him guilty of embezzlement. The other defendant in the case, businessman Ofitserov, was given a four-year suspended sentence. Navalny and Ofitserov also were ordered to pay fines of $7,800.

Navalny originally was found guilty in July 2013 of embezzling funds from the company and given a suspended sentence. But on Nov. 16, the presidium of Russia’s Supreme Court overturned the sentence against Navalny and transferred it to Kirov’s Leninsky District Court for a retrial after a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, which said that Navalny’s right to have a fair trial was violated.

Defense attorneys said that Navalny was convicted for “political activities” and Ofitserov was for “actions undistinguishable from entrepreneurial activities.”

“The European Court of Human Rights in its decision pointed to the need to either stop criminal proceedings or cancel the verdict against our clients,” attorney Svetlana Davydova said, adding that none of the ECHR demands were met.

Navalny said he has lost 80 percent of his sight in one eye after he was attacked with antiseptic, which caused “chemical burns.” It was the second time he said someone has put the chemical on his face.

On March 27, Navalny was sentenced to 15 days in jail and fined $350 after an anti-corruption demonstration in Moscow. About 600 people were detained after the rally one day earlier.

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