Russian opposition activist to attend review of his appeal against five-year sentence for defrauding state-owned timber company KirovLes; federal Investigative Committee claims more than 10,000 m3 of timber was stolen

, October 4, 2013 () – Opposition activist Alexei Navalny will be present at the October 9 hearing at the Kirov region court which will review his appeal in the Kirovles case.

"I'll be in Kirov at the hearing," Navalny said on Thursday.

Navalny was accused of masterminding misuse of the Kirovles company property. Director of the Vyatka Timber Company /VLK/ Pyotr Ofitserov was a second defendant in the case, who investigators said had abetted the crime. In July, they were sentenced to five and four years in a general regime penitentiary, and fined 500,000 roubles each.

Navalny and Ofitserov went on trial on April 17. Their lawyers demanded recusal of the judge four times, accusing him of bias, but none of their petitions were granted.

Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin had said Navalny, as an advisor to the Kirov region governor, "arranged the theft of Kirovles company by entering in collusion with Vyatka Timber Company director Pyotr Ofitserov and Kirovles director general Vyacheslav Opalev."

The SK believes that more than 10,000 cubic meters of timber were stolen in the period from May through September 2009, causing a 16-million-rouble damage to the regional budget.

On December 24, 2012, Kirov's Lenin district court gave Opalev a four-year suspended sentence with three-year probation. Opalev had pleaded guilty and signed a plea bargain agreement. Navalny and Ofitserov denied wrongdoing. The former insisted that former Kirovles director Vyacheslav Opalev had slandered him.

Navalny said he had come to the Kirov region at the invitation of regional governor Nikita Belykh in 2009, who offered him the post of his advisor. Navalny noted that Belykh had needed him as an expert in the anti-corruption field.

The Opposition activist said the governor had ordered him to look into the Kirovles operation and understand what was happening there. At that time, he got acquainted with Opalev. When examining company operation, Navalny found that it had huge wage arrears and liability to the regional budget. Opalev was hoping to pay the 200-milion-rouble to 250-million-rouble debt by selling surplus supplies from timber depots. Navalny claimed that there had been many complaints about corruption against Kirovles and that many firms refused to work with it.

"While examining the Kirovles operation, I found out that there were no surplus supplies claimed by Opalev and that his company was unable to ship products on its own," Navalny stated. He said he had accused Opalev and his relatives of corruption, and that their conflict entered "the open phase."


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