Embezzlement Charge for Putin Foe

Aleksei Navalny, a Russian blogger and anti-corruption activist, was charged Tuesday with embezzlement. The charge, which could result in a 5- to 10-year prison sentence, is one of the most outright actions the Russian government has taken against Navalny, one of the leaders of the anti-Kremlin protest movement that began in December. Navalny has been accused of scheming to rob a state-owned timber company during his service as an unpaid adviser to the governor of the Kirov region. Navalny called his charges “absurd and very strange,” likening them to the accusations against Putin adversary Mikhail Khodorkovsky. “All these jokes that Khodorkovsky stole all the oil and Navalny stole all the timber, that basically reflects what has happened today,” Navalny said after leaving court. “As far as I can tell you, the single idea behind this is that people watching all the news on the first channel can hear on the news that Navalny stole 16 million rubles.”