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A Russian court has found Alexei Navalny guilty of embezzlement in a trial widely seen as a means of silencing the popular Russian opposition leader, Guardian reports.
A judge in the provincial city of Kirov, 500 miles north-east of Moscow, found Navalny guilty of embezzling 16m roubles from a timber firm while advising the region's liberal governor in 2009. Prosecutors have asked the judge to give him six years in prison and a 1m rouble fine. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years.
The trial is widely seen as a means of discrediting an opposition leader who has gained increasing support since Vladimir Putin returned to the Russian presidency against a backdrop of unprecedented protests last year.
Navalny arrived in the provincial city by train on Thursday morning, backed by dozens of supporters. The verdict reading was due to begin at 9am.
After building a career in opposition politics by focusing on exposing official corruption, Navalny said he would run for mayor of Moscow in snap elections called for September. In a move that surprised many, officials allowed him to register for the race last week, prompting speculation that he could be handed a suspended or delayed sentence.