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Sentence Suspended for Russian Opposition Leader

A Russian appeals court has suspended the five-year prison sentence of anti-corruption blogger and opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The ruling in the northern Russian region of Kirov was handed down Wednesday.

Navalny, found guilty of organizing the 2009 theft of some $500,000 from a timber firm, repeated his claim Wednesday that the charges were politically motivated and vowed to remain involved in Russian politics. While the suspension of his sentence keeps him out of jail, his conviction prevents him from running in future elections.

Navalny, an anti-corruption blogger, was found guilty of organizing the 2009 theft of some $500,000 from a timber firm. He appealed the ruling, saying the case against him was politically motivated and intended to silence his dissent.

Navalny received his sentence in July, leaving the courtroom in handcuffs. A day later he was suddenly released, pending appeal.

Last month Navalny sparked protests by thousands of supporters when he declared Russia's September 8 Moscow mayoral election was rigged to hand victory to an ally of President Vladimir Putin.

Navalny said the vote count had many serious violations and demanded a runoff be held between him and Kremlin-backed rival Sergei Sobyanin.

The 37-year-old opposition leader said Monday there was "clear falsification" of votes and Sobyanin's majority was "guaranteed only by fraud."

Results showed incumbent Sobyanin winning a little more than 51 percent of the vote to Navalny's 27 percent.

Kremlin-backed Sobyanin was widely expected to win. He is Russian President Vladimir Putin's former chief of staff. Sobyanin was appointed mayor three years ago.

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