UPDATE 2-Kremlin critic Navalny given suspended sentence, brother jailed – Reuters

Posted: Tuesday, December 30, 2014

* Case seen as part of Kremlin campaign to stifle dissent

* Navalny led mass protests against Putin in 2011/12

* Navalny accused state institutions of corruption

* Kremlin denies it uses courts to persecute opponents

(Adds more quotes, details)

By Maria Tsvetkova

MOSCOW, Dec 30 (Reuters) – A Russian court gave Kremlin
critic Alexei Navalny a suspended sentence on Tuesday for
embezzling money but jailed his brother for three and a half
years in a case seen as part of a campaign to stifle dissent.

Navalny led mass protests against President Vladimir Putin
three years ago, when tens of thousands took to the streets in
Moscow and St Petersburg to protest against corruption in
Putin’s government and inner circle.

The Navalny brothers were accused of stealing 30 million
roubles, around $500,000 at the current exchange rate, from two
firms including an affiliate of the French cosmetics company
Yves Rocher between 2008 and 2012.

Tuesday’s ruling will come as a relief for Navalny’s
supporters after prosecutors asked that he be imprisoned for 10
years.

The Kremlin denies allegations that it uses the courts to
persecute opponents.

Officials have taken few steps to investigate Navalny’s
corruption allegations. He claimed there was mass embezzlement,
including in state bank VTB and pipeline monopoly
Transneft, run by close allies of Putin.

“Aren’t you ashamed of what you are doing?” Navalny told the
court and judge Yelena Korobchenko. “Why are you putting him (my
brother Oleg) in prison? To punish me even harder?”

Currently under house arrest, Alexei Navalny is serving
another suspended five-year jail term for a separate conviction
last year, which critics also called a sham.

“The authorities are torturing and destroying relatives of
their political opponents. This regime doesn’t deserve to exit,
it must be destroyed,” Navalny told reporters outside the court
as he was escorted in a car for prisoners.

His supporters have promised to hold a protest on the Manezh
Square in front of the Kremlin on Tuesday evening.

(Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova; Writing by Dmitry Zhdannikov;
Editing by Dominic Evans)

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