Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny is back in Moscow campaigning to be mayor after his criminal conviction last week.
Navalny, left, arrived at a train station in Moscow on Saturday, where he thanked supporters and talked about his campaign.
A day earlier, he was convicted of embezzlement in a trial in the city of Kirov, five hundred miles from Moscow. A judge sentenced him to five years in prison. He was freed pending his appeal.
The criminal conviction disqualified Navalny from political office. But his surprise release requested by prosecutors allowed him to restart his campaign to be Moscow’s mayor.
RIA Novosti, a state-controlled news service, posted a video showing Navalny’s arrival back in the city.
According to reports from Radio Free Europe and detailed by the New York Times, Navalny told supporters at the Moscow train station: ‘You have destroyed the main privilege that the Kremlin has claimed, its alleged right to arrest anyone in court and cause that person to disappear. It’s because of you that we were released the next day. Thank you! We are a huge, mighty force, and I am glad that we are realizing this and I am glad to be one with you.’
An international outcry followed Navalny’s conviction and sentencing, with many leaders in the U.S. and the EU supporting Navlany and questioning his trial.
Navlany, 37, a lawyer who became famous as an anti-corruption blogger, has led huge demonstrations against the government.
In the race for mayor of Moscow, he faces Sergei Sobyanin, President Vladimir Putin’s popular former chief of staff.
The vote takes place September 8.
If his conviction is upheld on appeal, he could still face disqualification.
Richard L. Cassin is the Publisher and Editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.