Russian opposition leader: Putin ordered trial

Associated Press
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Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny smiles as he speaks to a journalist during an interview in the Echo Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) radio station in Moscow, Russia, Monday, April 8, 2013. Navalny made his name as an anti-corruption whistleblower and spearheaded massive anti-Kremlin protests that followed the rigged parliament election in Dec. 2011. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

MOSCOW (AP) — One of Russia's most prominent opposition leaders claims that President Vladimir Putin has "undoubtedly" ordered an embezzlement trial against him.

Alexey Navalny, a lawyer and popular blogger, exposed official corruption and spearheaded a series of massive protests in Moscow against Putin's return to the presidency. He is to go on trial April 17 on charges of leading an organized crime group that stole timber worth about $500,000 while he worked for a provincial governor.

Navalny said in an interview on Ekho Moskvy radio Monday that "of course, he had no doubts" that Putin gave direct orders to try him.

Scores of opposition activists have faced arrests, searches and criminal probes after the anti-Putin rallies.