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Criminal trial could derail reformer Navalny

Photo courtesy of Navalny’s livejournal blogRussia’s most popular anti-graft blogger filed papers this weekend to run for mayor of Moscow.

Aleksei Navalny, left, is one of eight candidates in the race.

He’s currently on trial for embezzlement. And if found guilty, he’d be disqualified from running for office.

Navalny, 36, has said the charges against him are bogus and intended to punish him for exposing government fraud.

He faces up to ten years if convicted. But even a suspended sentence would bar him from politics.

Navalny led massive anti-government demonstrations last year in Moscow.

His trial is taking place 500 miles from Moscow, in the city of Kirov. He’s charged with embezzling $510,000 from a state-owned timber company when he served as a government advisor.

He’s best known for publishing alleged evidence of a $4 billion fraud at Transneft, the state-owned giant that transports more than 90% of the oil produced in Russia.

Time magazine named him one of the world’s most influential people in 2012.

At his trial Monday, Navalny said during cross-examination that the charges against him are ‘absurd.’

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