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Putin's old foe slams vile verdict for brother

Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner who is a leading foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was found guilty of fraud and given a suspended sentence of three and a half years yesterday, while his brother was sent to prison.

The verdict was scheduled for next month, but the court session was abruptly moved forward to the day before New Year's Eve, the main holiday in Russia, leading to speculation that authorities wanted to head off protests.

Navalny (inset) and his younger brother Oleg were convicted of defrauding a French cosmetics company and given the same sentence as each other, but Oleg's was not suspended. The court also fined each of them 500,000 rubles and ordered them to pay some four million rubles in damages.


Oleg Navalny, has never played a role in the Russian opposition movement and his imprisonment could echo the Soviet-era practice of punishing the relatives of inconvenient people.

"Aren't you ashamed of what you're doing? You want to punish me even harder?" Alexei Navalny shouted out as Judge Yelena Korobchenko handed down the sentence for his brother.

Alexei briefly entered the metal cage that his brother was put into and appeared to be holding back tears.