KIROV, Russia (AP) — The trial resumed Wednesday in the case against a Russian opposition leader who led protests against President Vladimir Putin and exposed alleged corruption in his government.
Alexei Navalny is accused of heading an organized criminal group that embezzled 16 million rubles ($500,000) worth of timber from a state-owned company while working as an adviser to the Kirov provincial governor in 2009.
The charges, which strike at the essence of Navalny's image as an anti-corruption activist, threatened to send him to prison for 10 years and would ban him from running for public office. Navalny has declared his intent to run for president.
Navalny insists the charges are an act of revenge for his exposure of high-level corruption and are intended to silence him.
"At the end of the trial, we will certainly win," Navalny said when he arrived in the northwestern city of Kirov on the overnight train from Moscow. "I'm sure that a lack of guilt will be established. Even if it is not formally acknowledged by the court, it will be clear for everyone who attends the trial."
A Navalny supporter put up a large white sign in front of the courthouse saying "Putin is a Thief" in large letters.
The trial began a week ago, but was quickly adjourned until Wednesday at the request of the defense, which said Navalny and his legal team had not been given enough time to read the case files.