WASHINGTON — Alexei Navalny, a leading opposition figure in Russia, avoided a five-year prison sentence this week when a judge delayed the prison term.
Reuters reported that Navalny, who is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s chief opponent, is barred from running in elections the next few years and he will appeal that ban.
Navalny said, “It’s clear for me that the authorities are trying by all means to hound me out of politics, coming up with some restrictions and fabricated cases…One thing is for sure, they will not succeed in pushing me and my allies out of political life”.
His prison sentence stemmed from his conviction this past July for stealing about $500,000 from a timber firm back in 2009, which Navalny said was a revenge move from Putin and the Kremlin.
Navalny finished a strong second to a Putin ally in the Moscow mayoral election last month, which sent waves in the political environment in Russia. He nearly forced a runoff with Putin’s ally in the mayoral race.
He is a blogger who campaigned against corruption of the Russian elite and led widespread protests after a fraudulous 2011 parliamentary election that Putin’s party won.