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Russian Supreme Court Upholds Conviction Of Navalny Brothers' In 'Yves Rocher Case'

Opposition activist Aleksei Navalny attends a hearing to review his and his brother Oleg's sentences in the Yves Rocher case at the Russian Supreme Court in Moscow on April 25.

Russia's Supreme Court has upheld the verdict against opposition politician Aleksei Navalny and his brother Oleg in the so-called Yves Rocher case.

The court said on April 25 that, after revising the case following a request by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), it found that the Navalny brothers were lawfully convicted in 2014.

Aleksei and Oleg Navalny were convicted of stealing about $500,000 from two Russian firms, one of which was affiliated with French cosmetics company Yves Rocher, between 2008 and 2012, and of laundering part of the amount.

Both were sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison, but Aleksei's sentence was suspended. Oleg remains in prison, and his term expires in late June.

Navalny condemned the Supreme Court's ruling, calling it "a symbol of ignoring" the ECHR request.

"The Supreme Court demonstratively refused to carry out Russia's international commitments," Navalny said after the ruling was pronounced.

Navalny's lawyer, Olga Mikhailova said she would ask the Committee of Ministers -- the Council of Europe's decision-making body -- to assess the Russian Supreme Court's ruling.

In its ruling in October, the ECHR said that Russian courts handed down "arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable" decisions in the case.

The brothers denied the charges, saying the case was politically motivated -- in part as an effort to turn Oleg into a "hostage" who could be used to blackmail his brother into refraining from his political and anticorruption activism.

Navalny, 41, a vocal foe of President Vladimir Putin who has organized large street protests on several occasions and published a series of reports alleging corruption in Russia's ruling elite, was barred from the March presidential race due to the convictions in the Yves Rocher case and a second one, known as the Kirovles case.

In the Kirovles case, Navalny was found guilty of stealing money from a state timber company in 2013.

The ECHR ruled in 2016 that the trial of Navalny and co-defendant Pyotr Ofitserov in the Kirovles case was unfair, saying that they were convicted of actions "indistinguishable from regular commercial activity."

Following that ruling, the Russian Supreme Court threw out the 2013 convictions and ordered a retrial, which ended in February 2017 with the same verdicts and the same suspended sentences -- five years in prison for Navalny and four for Ofitserov.