A Russian court has upheld opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s five-year suspended sentence for embezzlement, a move that could thwart his plans to run for president in 2018.
The court threw out Navalny’s appeal of the embezzlement charges that were lodged against him over a timber deal he was involved with in 2009, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.
Navalny has called the embezzlement charges, which came after he led protests against President Vladimir Putin, politically motivated.
A conviction for a serious crime could prevent Navalny from running for president, even before he gathers the 300,000 signatures needed to register as a candidate.
Navalny’s campaign manager Leonid Volkov, though, insisted on Twitter the ruling would not derail Navalny’s quest to become president.
“We are holding a campaign to get Alexei Navalny registered as a presidential campaign and we will achieve that,” he said.
Navalny has said he believes he is eligible to run because he is not imprisoned. But some legal experts have questioned this.
Navalny did not attend the court proceedings Thursday due to issues with his right eye. He was attacked last week by an assailant who threw green dye on his face, leaving Navalny with only 20 percent vision in his right eye and a risk of losing use of it completely.