Russian Court Explains Mitigation of Opposition Leader’s Sentence

November 4, 2013
Alexey Navalny. Gennady Gulyayev/Kommersant

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was found guilty of fraud in July, and while he recently lost his appeal, in October his five-year prison sentence was suspended. Now the court has released an explanation for the mitigation of his sentence.

Under current election law, Navalny, as a convicted felon, would never be able to hold public office. A bill that would allow some convicted criminals to hold office is up for debate in the State Duma, though it is likely that, if it were to pass, Navalny would still be banned from holding public office for at least 10 years. – Ed.

The reasons for the mitigation of Alexei Navalny’s sentence were his young children and a positive reference from his place of residence, says an appeals ruling posted on the web site of the Kirov Regional Court.

The ruling also notes that “the conclusions of the court in the sentence are sufficiently motivated and are correct.” The statement also says that practically all the arguments of the defense or the convicts themselves were unfounded and fabricated.

On 16 October, the Kirov Regional Court reviewed the appeal in the Kirovles case and reduced the actual prison terms for Alexei Navalny and Pyotr Ofitserov to suspended sentences. Navalny received a five-year suspended sentence and Ofitserov received a four-year suspended sentence.

On 18 July, Navalny and Ofitserov were pronounced guilty of organizing embezzlement of Kirovles products in the sum of 16 million rubles. According to the investigation, while serving as an aide to the governor of Kirov Region, Navalny persuaded Ofitserov to create VLK [Vyatsk Timber Company] and then got Kirovles director Vyacheslav Opalev to sign a deliberately unprofitable agreement with this company as the broker. The indictment says that it was more profitable for Kirovles to sell the timber directly than through a broker.

Navalny and Ofitserov were taken into custody in the court room, but then released the next day upon petitioning from the prosecutor’s office. On the evening of 18 July, a spontaneous rally in support of the Kirovles defendants took place in Moscow in which, according to various estimates, between 2,500 and 10,000 people took part.