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Russian Court Rejects Navalny's Motion To Replace Judge

Russian anticorruption blogger Aleksei Navalny gestures during a court hearing in Kirov on December 5.

A Russian judge has rejected a motion by lawyers for Aleksei Navalny to recuse himself from the retrial of the opposition activist.

Judge Aleksei Vtyurin announced his decision on December 6, the second day of hearings in the retrial of Navalny and co-defendant Pyotr Ofitserov in the so-called Kirovles case.

Vtyurin then adjourned the trial until December 12, citing Navalny's absence from the court in the city of Kirov, nearly 800 kilometers northeast of Moscow.

In November, Russia's Supreme Court threw out a 2013 guilty verdict against Navalny and Ofitserov and sent the case back to the lower court.

Navalny, an anticorruption campaigner and vocal foe of President Vladimir Putin, was handed a five-year suspended sentence after the initial trial in the case, which he said was a politically motivated punishment for his opposition activity.

A key leader of large antigovernment protests in 2011-2012, Navalny was convicted of fraud in a separate case in 2014 and given a 3 1/2-year suspended sentence.

Based on reporting by Interfax and Rapsinews