Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny has been convicted of embezzlement in a verdict that will stop him from running against Vladimir Putin in the country’s presidential election in 2018.
In a court in Kirov, the judge Aleksei Vtyurin said that Navalny “organized the commission of a crime” and his co-defendant, Pyotr Ofitserov, was also convicted in the same case.
The case was a retrial after the European Court of Human Rights ruled he did not get a fair hearing at his first trial at 2013.
It relates to his time as an advisor to the Kirov governor and he was found guilty of embezzling timber worth about $500,000.
Navalny, who rise to prominence uncovering corruption and describing the ruling United Russia party as the party of “crooks and thieves” says the case is politically motivated.
He helped spearhead mass protests in the country in 2011 and 2012 and said he wanted to run for office in the next presidential election.
Prosecutors had called for Navalny to get a five-year suspended sentence. Navalny spoke in November 2016 of his hopes that the European court ruling would allow him to run for office, but he still warned his supporters that the Kremlin had the ability to “deprive me of my electoral rights”.
“This is our country and we shouldn’t just hand it over to the corrupt judges, bandits from the Prosecutor’s Office and those swindlers that currently occupy the Kremlin,” he said in a video address last year.
Navalny got more than 27% of the vote in a race for Moscow mayor, more than any other opposition candidate.