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You're reading: Timber trade threatens Russia protest leader
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Locals say it is so murky that the country’s most charismatic opposition leader Alexei Navalny will have a hard time fending off charges levied last week of stealing wood from a state company while advising the governor there in 2009.

Navalny says politics lie behind the case, which may also tarnish the governor, Nikita Belykh, a liberal whose appointment by then-President Dmitry Medvedev may grate with the more conservative previous and current Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin.

“The charges were not only absurd but unexpected,” he told Reuters, adding that one member of the gang he was said to have organised to steal the wood had given evidence against him in earlier corruption charges involving timber that were dropped.

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