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Moscow Court Issues Arrest Warrant For Navalny Associate

A Russian court has issued an arrest warrant for an associate of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny.

Moscow's Basmanny District Court placed Nikita Kulachenkov on a wanted list on April 30, saying he is suspected with "premeditated theft of an artwork."

In June, Kulachenkov and another Navalny associate, Georgy Alburov, were charged with stealing a picture that was painted on plywood and affixed to a fence in Vladimir, about 170 kilometers northeast of Moscow.

Investigators found the picture in Navalny's home last year, and Navalny said it was a gift from friends.

On April 14, a court in Vladimir found Alburov guilty of stealing the picture and sentenced him to 240 days of community service.

Kulachenkov's whereabouts is unknown.

Navalny, a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin and a driving force behind street protests in 2011-12, has received two suspended sentences on theft convictions.

He denies wrongdoing, saying the cases against him and his associates are the Kremlin's revenge for his opposition activities.

Based on reporting by Interfax and TASS