World Bulletin/News Desk
A Russian court has brought forward the date of its ruling in the trial of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny to Dec 30, Navalny's lawyer told Reuters on Monday.
Navalny led mass protests against President Vladimir Putin three years ago, and his trial is seen as part of a campaign to stifle dissent.
His supporters have promised to hold a protest on the Manezh Square in front of the Kremlin on Tuesday evening after the ruling. Within hours of an event for the protest being created on Facebook, over 3,000 had registered as attending.
"The only thing that comes to mind is that this is an attempt to prevent a large number of people who disagree with the verdict taking to the streets," said Olga Mikhailova, Navalny's lawyer.
"December 30 is a very convenient date, people are busy with New Year's festivities, some have left town," she said.
Navalny is accused of stealing 30 million roubles ($536,193) from two firms, including an affiliate of the French cosmetics company Yves Rocher, between 2008 and 2012, in a case that also involves his brother, Oleg.
Prosecutors have said Alexei Navalny, who denies his guilt, should be imprisoned for 10 years.
Currently under house arrest, Navalny is serving a suspended five-year jail term for a separate conviction last year, which critics also called a sham.
The Kremlin denies allegations that it uses the courts to persecute opponents.Last Mod: 29 Aralık 2014, 17:05