12/30/2014, 00.00
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Alexei Navalny sentenced to three and a half years, but does not go to jail

The verdict was to be made public on 15 January, but was brought forward to today, perhaps in fear of massive demonstrations planned by anti-Putin opposition.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Alexei Navalny, considered Vladimir Putin's main opponent, has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison, but with a suspended sentence. He was found guilty of defrauding a French company.

Navalny's brother, Oleg, was sentenced to three and a half years for fraud, but will have to serve his sentence in prison.

The ruling has taken everyone by surprise because it was to be announced on January 15 but was brought forward to today, just before festivities for the New Year and Orthodox Christmas. It is likely that the announcement was anticipated in an attempt to forestall massive demonstrations in favor of the dissident, that had been scheduled for January.

Alexei Navalny was the protagonist of anti-Putin demonstrations in 2011. He accuses the President of corruption and fascism. He claims that all charges of fraud against himself and his family are really attempts to silence him.

In 2013 Navalny challenged Putin's candidate in Moscow's mayoral election and received 27% of the votes.

 

 

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