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Navalny Election Volunteer Sentenced In Chuvashia

Aleksei Mironov on September 18.

NOVOCHEBOKSARSK, Russia -- A volunteer for Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny's embattled presidential campaign has been convicted under extremism legislation and sentenced to 27 months in a penitentiary.

In a September 18 verdict, a court in the Chuvasia region city of Novocheboksarsk found Aleksei Mironov guilty of calling for extremism and inciting hatred via the Internet.

It sentenced him to two years and three months in a colony settlement, a penitentiary in which convicts live close to an industrial facility or farm where they work.

Mironov, 26, said that the sentence was unexpected and he had "no words" to describe how he felt.

The activist is one of many Navalny staffers or supporters to face prosecution as the anticorruption crusader mounts an effort to run in Russia's March 2018 presidential election.

The charges against Mironov stemmed from two 2016 posts, one depicting President Vladimir Putin with a swastika and one containing what authorities said was a slur against an ethnic group.

Defense lawyer Yury Ivanov said the verdict will be appealed.

Navalny is an outspoken critic of Putin, who has held power as prime minister or president since 1999 and expected to seek and secure a new six-year Kremlin term in the election.

Navalny, who announced plans to run in December 2016, has opened more than 60 campaign offices across Russia and held several campaign rallies, including gatherings in Siberia that drew thousands of people in the past few days.

In June, however, the Central Election Commission said that Navalny was ineligible to run for public office because of a financial-crimes conviction that he contests was politically motivated.