Russian court has rendered unexpected decision regarding Alexei Navalny – the date of sentencing is bumped up to December 30 because of the fear of protests in support of the opposition leader. Initially the verdict in Navalny's case was scheduled for January 15, news site Mashable writes.
Brothers Oleg and Alexei Navalny are accused of stealing funds from a French cosmetics company, while the company claims that the men have not committed any crime.
Navalny and his supporters say the criminal case is politically motivated. Since the opposition leader has long openly criticized the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin.
"The reason for the transfer is that the verdict is already ready," a spokesperson for the court says. However, Navalny and his supporters argue that the real reason for the transfer is that the Russian authorities are afraid of mass rallies in support of the well-known blogger. It should be noted that more than 33 000 people have declared their intention to take part in the January 15 rally in support of the opposition leader via a Facebook event page, the author reminds.
On Monday, the organizers of the protest tried to inform people about the new date and created a new Facebook events page. By the evening (just after 5:45 p.m. Moscow time) more than 7,700 people have confirmed their participation in the meeting on Tuesday.
Some journalists were quick to point out "the historical significance of the date." Since "December 30, 2010, is the day when jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky was convicted in his second trial. History is repeating," the activist Natalya Vasilyeva tweeted.
Alexei Navalny "has taken a prominent place" after he became the leader of the anti-Putin movement in Moscow in 2011. Despite the fact that in 2013 he failed to win the mayoral election in Moscow, he has very strong support, the author writes.
Back then Navalny was accused of embezzlement and sentenced to prison, but then, after thousands of people took to the streets, he was released, the journalist writes. Since February, he has been under house arrest.