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Dec 5, 2:59 AM EST

Retrial starts for Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny


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MOSCOW (AP) -- A retrial of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny for embezzlement opened Monday in the provincial city of Kirov after the original 2013 guilty verdict was overturned by the Supreme Court.

Navalny's lawyers asked the court to throw out the case in which he is accused of stealing timber worth $500,000 from a state-owned company. Critics of the process say the trial is politically motivated.

Navalny, Russia's most prominent opposition leader, told journalists the aim of the retrial was to restore the original conviction that bars him from standing as a candidate in elections.

Russia's Supreme Court sent the case for retrial last month. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in February that Russia had violated Navalny's right to a fair trial.

Another opposition activist, Ildar Dadin, had been transferred from the prison where he has claimed he was tortured, the Interfax news agency reported Monday.

The agency quoted an unidentified official from Russia's prison service as saying Dadin had left a prison in northwestern Russia but declined to say what his final destination would be.

Dadin was convicted last year of breaking strict new laws regulating public demonstrations.

Anastasia Zotova, Dadin's wife, told The Associated Press she had received no official notification of her husband's whereabouts.

Human rights activists had called for Dadin to be moved from prison colony IK-7 for his own safety.

Dadin said last month he was tortured by prison guards who carried out group beatings and threatened to rape and murder him. An official investigation did not find any wrongdoing.

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