Court Finds Seizure of Navalny Brothers' Assets Legal

The Moscow City Court on Wednesday ruled that the seizure of assets belonging to opposition politician Alexei Navalny and his brother, Oleg, in connection with an embezzlement case was legal.

Investigators in October accused the brothers defrauding a Russian branch of French cosmetics company Yves Rocher out of 26 million rubles ($778,000) and a cargo delivery firm out of 4 million rubles. They also face charges of laundering 21 million rubles, RIA Novosti reported.

A month later the Basmanny District Court confiscated assets worth 7 million rubles from Alexei Navalny as part of the investigation.

Alexei Navalny's lawyer Olga Mikhailova said Wednesday that the Basmanny District Court's decision was arbitrary as there was no proof that the money had been obtained by illegally.

She also said Wednesday that the court had not taken Alexei Navalny's two underage children into account when authorizing the seizure.

Oleg Navalny's lawyer challenged November's ruling on the grounds that his client is unemployed and has an underage child. His wife is also pregnant.

Neither Alexei nor Oleg Navalny attended the hearing.

Alexei Navalny, who finished second in September's mayoral elections, was sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted in July of stealing $500,000 from a regional timber company. The sentence was suspended in October, however, after Navalny's lawyers appealed the ruling.

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