Russian Opposition Leader Navalny Found Guilty of Embezzlement, Can No Longer Challenge Putin

Russian court finds opposition leader and anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny guilty of embezzling timber, which means he can no longer run for president.

 Russian anti-corruption campaigner and opposition figure Alexei Navalny attends a hearing at the Lublinsky district court in Moscow, Russia, August 1, 2016.
Reuters/File photo

A court in a provincial Russian city has found opposition leader Alexei Navalny guilty in the retrial of a 2013 fraud case, which means that he cannot run for president against Vladimir Putin, who's candidacy is not yet official, next year.

In a webcast hearing on Wednesday, Judge Alexei Vtyurin said Navalny was guilty of embezzling timber worth about $500,000. The previous guilty verdict was overturned by the European Court of Human Rights which ruled that Russia violated Navalny's right to a fair trial.

The judge has to yet to pronounce sentence.

Navalny, the driving force between behind massive anti-government protests in Russia in 2011 and 2012, had announced plans to run for office in December and had begun to raise funds. Current Russian President Vladimir Putin can run for re-election in 2018, although he has yet to state whether or not he will.