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Navalny, Co-Defendants Ordered To Pay $35,500 To Kirovles


Russian opposition activist Aleksei Navalny (left) and businessman Pyotr Ofitserov and at an earlier hearing in the Kirovles case. (file photo)

A Moscow court has ordered Russian opposition political activist and anticorruption campaigner Aleksei Navalny and two co-defendants in a high-profile embezzlement case to pay 2.1 million rubles (about $35,500) in damages to a lumber company.

In February, a court in the Russian city of Kirov found Navalny and co-defendant Pyotr Ofitserov guilty of embezzlement from the Kirovles lumber company after a retrial.

Navalny on February 8 received a 5-year suspended sentence, and Ofitserov received a 4-year suspended sentence. Additionally, they were fined 500,000 rubles ($8,500) each.

The Kirovles company also demanded more than 16 million rubles in damages (about $270,400) from Navalny, and codefendants Ofitserov and Kirovles ex-director Vyacheslav Opalyov.

The damages claimed by Kirovles are separate from the fines Navalny and Ofitserov were given by the court in Kirov.

The February retrial came after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in 2016 that the outcome of the 2013 trial, when exactly the same verdicts and sentences were handed to Navalny and Ofitserov, violated the defendants' right to a fair trial.

According to the ECHR ruling, the Russian court found the men "guilty of acts indistinguishable from regular commercial activity."

After the ECHR's ruling, Russia's Supreme Court threw out the 2013 convictions and ordered a retrial.

Both Navalny and Ofitserov have maintained their innocence.

The retrial and the verdict have been criticized by opposition politicians and human rights groups as politically motivated.

Navalny announced in December that he would run for president in a March 2018 election in which Vladimir Putin -- in power as president or prime minister since 1999 -- is widely expected to seek a new six-year term.

Navalny was convicted of fraud in a separate case in 2014 and given a 3 1/2-year suspended sentence.

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