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Russian Court Rejects All Navalny Motions, Orders Trial To Proceed


Aleksei Navalny (second from right) confers with his legal team during the court hearing in Kirov on April 24.
Aleksei Navalny (second from right) confers with his legal team during the court hearing in Kirov on April 24.
KIROV, Russia -- A court in the central Russian city of Kirov has rejected all motions by the defense team of anticorruption blogger Aleksei Navalny to delay his trial.

Judge Sergei Blinov rejected defense motions that he recuse himself as not impartial, that he return the case to investigators because of procedural violations, and that he postpone the trial to give defense lawyers more time to read the 7,500 pages of case materials.

Defense attorney Sergei Kobelev explained to the judge why they needed more time with the huge case files.

"The accused was given four days to familiarize himself with a criminal case that comprises 31 volumes -- that is, almost 7,500 pages," Kobelev said.

"This allotted time is clearly insufficient for reviewing such a volume of material. As a result, during this time I did not manage to review all the materials of this criminal case, so I request that this hearing be postponed until May 20."

After the court rejected the motions, it proceeded to hear opening statements.

LIVE STREAM: Trial coverage by RFE/RL's Russian Service

After prosecutors spoke, Navalny addressed the court, saying the case was "incomprehensible" to him and was clearly politically motivated.

"The main purpose of this case is political revenge for our campaign that was aimed at preventing the unlawful election of President [Vladimir] Putin, who seized power in Russia illegally," he said.

The judge reprimanded Navalny for not sticking to the facts of the case. Navalny responded that he will continue insisting that there is no legal basis for the charges.

After the opening statements, the court heard from the first witness in the case before adjourning for the day.

The trial will resume on April 25 and 26. After that, it will take a break until May 15.

Navalny is accused of involvement in the alleged theft of timber worth 16 million rubles ($510,000) while working for the Kirov Oblast governor's office.

Speaking to reporters in Kirov before the trial, Navalny said he was confident he will be vindicated, at least in the court of public opinion.

"This trial will result, of course, in our victory, and I'm sure that my innocence will be proved completely," he said. "Even if it's not recognized formally by the court, it will be absolutely obvious for the people present at the trial."

Navalny could face up to 10 years in prison. He claims the charges are politically motivated.

Navalny is a vocal opponent of Putin and has expressed an interest in running for president of Russia.

He has said that if he ever came to power, he would initiate investigations against Putin and others in his ruling elite for possible corruption.

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