18 Jul 2013

Russian protest leader jailed on theft charge

11:11 pm on 18 July 2013

A Russian protest leader, Alexei Navalny, has been found guilty of theft at a trial he says is politically motivated because of his opposition to President Vladimir Putin.

He has been sentenced to five years in prison.

The trial was held in the industrial city of Kirov, 900km northeast of Moscow.

Navalny was found guilty of organising a scheme to steal almost 16 million roubles from a state timber firm when he was advising the Kirov region governor in 2009.

He emerged from anti-Putin protests last year as the opposition's most dynamic leader and has said he would like to be president.

He had just registered to run in a Moscow mayoral election in September.

"Shame! Disgrace!" protesters chanted outside the court, Reuters reports. Some of his supporters burst into tears and other opposition activists could barely hide their shock and anger.