Navalny loses bid to recuse judge in embezzlement case
MOSCOW, December 6 (RAPSI, Yevgeniya Sokolova) – A judge of the Kirov regional court rejected a request to recuse himself from overseeing the case against Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny, RAPSI learnt in the court on Tuesday.
The motion for recusal of the judge was filed by Navalny’s defense. Earlier, the court had also dismissed a motion to close criminal case against the politician and a motion to return the case to prosecutors in order to make good the defects that prevented this case from being properly reviewed.
Navalny was given a five-year suspended sentence for embezzlement at the Kirovles timber company in July 2013. Ofitserov received a four-year suspended sentence.
According to investigators, while serving on a voluntary basis as an adviser to the Kirov Region governor Navalny organized the theft of over 10,000 cubic meters of timber from Kirovles company between May and September 2009.
Investigators claimed that Pyotr Ofitserov, then Director of Vyatka Timber Company, and Kirovles CEO Vyacheslav Opalyov were involved in the scheme.
The ECHR ruled in February that Russia had violated Navalny's and and Ofitserov’s right to a fair trial.
In particular, according to ECHR, sentences against them were issued with numerous violations because a lot of references were made regarding another defendant Vyacheslav Opalyov. The proceedings against Opalyov were treated as a separated criminal case after he admitted his guilt.
Additionally, ECHR noted that Russian courts failed to review claims by the defense that Kirovles case might have a political motive behind it and did not provide adequate evaluations of such claims. ECHR itself did not find a political motive in the case. The court ruled to compensate Navalny with 48,000 euros of legal costs and Ofitserov with 22,000 euros. Additionally, Russia is to pay 8,000 euro to each applicant in damages.
Russia’s Justice Ministry filed a request seeking referral of the case to the Grand Chamber of the ECHR, but the request was dismissed.
Russia's Supreme Court overturned in mid-November sentences against Navalny and Ofitserov in Kirovles embezzlement case and sent it for retrial.
Russia's Supreme Court delivered the ruling taking into consideration the judgement of the ECHR.
The case against Navalny was forwarded once again to the Oktyabrksy District Court of the city of Kirov.
Navalny refused to attend the new trial.