Kremlin protest planned after blogger given suspended sentence

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By Seamus Kearney
Kremlin protest planned after blogger given suspended sentence

A critic of the Kremlin has been found guilty of fraud and given a suspended jail term by a court in Moscow.

Blogging activist Alexei Navalny led demonstrations against President Vladimir Putin three years ago.

Kremlin critics say the case against Navalny was part of a campaign to silence dissent.

Navalny’s brother, Oleg, was also charged and he has been jailed for three and a half years.

Alexei’s suspended sentence is also for three and a half years over accusations of embezzlement.

Navalny said to the court and judge Yelena Korobchenko: “Are you not ashamed of what you are doing? Why are you putting him (my brother Oleg) in jail? To punish me even more severely?”

Prosecutors allege the brothers stole 30 million roubles from two companies and say there was ample evidence to prove the case. They called for a 10-year jail term.

But news agencies, including Reuters, say officials have taken few steps to investigate the allegations.

The 38-year-old is already currently under house arrest for another five-year suspended sentence.

That conviction last year was also dismissed by supporters as politically motivated.

The Kremlin denies it has any influence over judges, or that it has the power to order cases to be opened or charges to be laid against opponents.

Navalny supporters, including the protest rock group Pussy Riot, are planning a protest in front of the Kremlin.

They released a video calling for supporters to gather on Tuesday evening.