The Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been jailed for five years for supposedly embezzling from a timber company. Navalny has denied these allegations and claims that the trial and jailing were politically motivated. His supporters and foreign dignitaries also contend these are trumped-up charges.
Navalny had been spearheading a campaign directed against President Putin's United Russia party. Navalny spoke and blogged regularly about corruption in the Russian government.
The activist was declared guilty of leading a firm that embezzled timber worth $500,000 from a state timber company. Today was the end of a months-long trial regarding these corruption charges. Another anti-Putin activist and former cabinet minister, Boris Nemtsov, said this trial was "completely fabricated from start to finish, and even the judge could not say what the reason for the crime was."
The 37-year-old face of Russia's most effective anti-corruption campaign has said he had ambitions to serve as Russia's president. Navalny had recently put in his name to run as the next mayor of Moscow. After the trial, he withdrew his candidacy and encouraged his supporters to boycott the vote.
International statements show disappointment with the outcome of the trial and suspicion of Russian law. A spokesperson for the EU stated that this verdict prompted "serious questions as to the state of the rule of law in Russia." The US ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul posted:
We are deeply disappointed in the conviction of @Navalny and the apparent political motivations in this trial.— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) July 18, 2013
[image via AP]