A court has found a prominent anti-corruption campaigner and Kremlin critic, Alexei Navalny, guilty of embezzlement, now apparently blocked from campaigning in next year's presidential election. Matthew Larotonda reports.
A leading critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin is now likely barred from a bid to become the country's next head of state. Alexei Navalny found guilty of embezzlement in a retrial, after Russia's supreme court overturned a previous conviction against him last year. Now he's been handed a second suspended five year sentence. He had just opened his first regional campaign office last week and might have faced Putin himself in the vote. The president expected to seek a fourth term. Navalny is accused of mishandling the funds of a timber company in 2013. But he says the case is politically motivated. Putin allies have long painted him as a foreign-funded subversive. And the European Court of Human Rights said his first trial had not been conducted fairly. When it was overturned, Russia's supreme court sent the case back to the same judiciary that originally found him guilty. Navalny rose to prominence during 2012's mass anti-government protests in Moscow. He says he's going to keep up his crusade and appeal. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER, ALEXEI NAVALNY, SAYING: "My plan is always the same - to fight for a free Russia, we have no other plan regardless of the trial." If he manages to stay in the race it will likely still be an uphill battle. Opinion polls put him far behind Putin.