Russian court upholds sentence of Kremlin critic Navalny

18 february 2015, 12:59

 A Russia court upheld Tuesday a suspended three-and-a-half year prison sentence against top Kremlin critic Alexi Navalny on charges he embezzled money from French cosmetics company Yves Rocher, AFP reports.

However, the court lifted the house arrest to which Navalny had been subjected since February 2014 and which he repeatedly called "illegal".

"Our tiny hopes for the cancelling of the sentence... were not realised," Navalny, a charismatic blogger and anti-corruption campaigner, told Russian television.

Navalny and his younger brother Oleg were found guilty in December of defrauding Yves Rocher's Russian subsidiary of close to 400,000 euros (over $455,000).

The activist was handed a suspended sentence, while his brother got three and a half years behind bars.

Navalny said the case sent a clear message to critics of President Vladimir Putin's regime: "If you criticise us for something, we will put you in prison."

The brothers' defence team announced its intention to continue appealing their sentences and to also file a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights.

Navalny said he would not give up his political activities, but rather "continue, maybe with renewed energy" due to the incarceration of his brother, whom he called a "hostage."

"I call on everyone to do everything they can to struggle against this corrupt regime," he added.

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