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Investigators Submit Documents for Confirmation of Indictment in Navalny Case

The Investigative Committee has submitted to the Prosecutor General's Office documents for the confirmation of indictment in the KirovLes embezzlement case against opposition leader Alexei Navalny, investigators said in an official statement Tuesday.

The case, in which investigators say Navalny defrauded the Kirov region of 16 million rubles ($520,000) by stealing 10,000 cubic meters of timber in 2009 with Pyotr Ofitserov, the director of a local timber company, now requires only confirmation by the Prosecutor General before moving ahead, the statement said.

The confirmation of indictment does not mean that the suspects are guilty of the crimes of which they are accused, but that investigators have met the burden of proof required to go forward with the case.

Navalny and his brother Oleg are also suspected of defrauding the local branch of Yves Roche of 24 million rubles by overcharging for the services of a company the brothers established.

In December, a Kirov court convicted the third suspected accomplice in the timber case, former general director of KirovLes Vyacheslav Opalev, for his role in the alleged scheme. He was sentenced to four years in prison.

Navalny faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of stealing timber and 10 years on separate charges of defrauding Yves Roche. He has denied all wrongdoing in the cases.

The news of the indictment comes days after several members of the Kremlin's human rights council signed an open letter in support of Navalny, saying accusations against him stem from his opposition activity.

On March 13, Vedomosti reported that five members were behind the letter, in which they said that any prosecution of the opposition leader would be baseless.

Mikhail Fedotov, the council's chairman, declined to comment on reports of the letter, saying the council had not yet arrived at a definitive conclusion.

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