A Russian court has upheld the theft conviction against opposition leader Alexei Navalny but suspended his five-year prison sentence. Navalny was found guilty in July for embezzlement over a 2009 timber deal.
On Wenesday, a regional court in the northern city of Kirov upheld Navalny's conviction but suspended his five-year prison sentence, which means the prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin will not be jailed.
In July, Kirov's Lenin district court found Navalny and his business associate Pyotr Ofitserov guilty of embezzlement over a 2009 timber deal. Navalny contends the case against him was fabricated and politically motivated in retaliation for challenging Putin. After the hearing, Navalny was released on bail and appealed the conviction. His case has garnered international attention.
Navalny won 27 percent in the Moscow mayoral election last month, which put him in second place behind pro-Kremlin incumbent Sergei Sobyanin. However, Navalny filed a lawsuit contesting the results of the race.
Russian law enforcers have launched several criminal cases against Navalny, 37, in what looks like an attempt to defuse an opposition figure.
Navalny rose to political fame during mass protests in the winter of 2011/2012 against Putin's return to the Kremlin for a third term.
hc/mkg (Reuters, AFP)