KIROV, April 17 (RIA Novosti) – The trial of Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption crusader who led last year’s mass protests against President Vladimir Putin’s rule, was delayed on Wednesday until April 24.
The judge at the trial, Sergei Blinov, adjourned proceedings at the request of Navalny’s defense lawyers, who said they needed more time to familiarize themselves with the case materials.
“I am innocent,” Navalny told journalists outside the court, calling the case against him “trumped-up.”
Navalny, 36, is charged with heading a criminal group that investigators say embezzled 16 million rubles’ ($500,000) worth of timber from a state-run company in central Russia’s Kirov Region, some 800 kilometers (500 miles) from Moscow, in 2009.
He denies the charges, which could see him jailed for up to ten years, and says they are revenge for his often acerbic criticism of Russia’s top officials.
Putin’s spokesman denied this week the charges against Navalny were political and said the president would not be following the trial.
Some 100-150 Navalny supporters had traveled to Kirov to support the protest leader. Court officials refused this week to transfer the trial to Moscow, where support for Navalny is strongest.