KIROV: Russian protest leader Alexei Navalny yesterday escaped being sent to a penal colony on controversial charges he claims were ordered by the Kremlin after a court converted his five-year sentence into a suspended term.
President Vladimir Putin’s top critic walked free from court after the appeal verdict, although the embezzlement conviction that disqualifies him from politics remains in place. The decision by a regional court in the northern Kirov region came after Navalny made a surprisingly robust showing in the Moscow mayor election in September.
“There was enough pressure that forced the authorities to free us at least for a time,” Navalny said after the ruling. “It is all absolutely obvious that all the decisions, first on the real sentence and the change now to suspended, are taken definitely not here but personally by Vladimir Putin,” Navalny said. AFP