MOSCOW, July 18 (RIA Novosti) – Prosecutors on Thursday asked a Russian court to temporarily release opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who earlier that day had been sentenced to five years in prison on embezzlement charge he denounced as politically motivated.
“The Prosecutor General’s Office believes that Navalny may remain out of custody under pledge not to leave town until the verdict comes into effect,” the office’s press service told RIA Novosti. If Navalny does not appeal the sentence in a higher court, it comes into effect in 10 days, the office said.
Navalny, an anti-Kremlin protest leader and whistle-blowing blogger, was taken into custody in the court after being convicted on embezzlement charges linked to the 2009 sale of timber by a state-run company at allegedly below-market prices.
A co-defendant in the trial, Pyotr Ofitserov, was sentenced to four years in jail and also taken into custody. The Prosecutor General’s Office has now also asked that he be released until his sentencing comes into effect.
The Kirov Region court will examine the office’s appeal on Friday at 10 a.m. local time, Navalny’s lawyer, Vadim Kobzev, told the RAPSI legal news service.