Alexei Navalny, a 2010 Yale World Fellow, will stand trial on Wednesday in Kirov, Russia over an embezzlement charge that his supporters are decrying as a thinly veiled political trial.
Navalny, the political activist in opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin, faces up to 10 years in jail if found guilty — a conviction Navalny said he very much expects. He told the Daily Telegraph that he is “convinced” the trial’s location, which will be held 500 miles east of Moscow, marks a political decision made by Putin.
Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the Investigative Committee in Russia — the body that is prosecuting Navalny — cited Yale with helping support Navalny’s rise to prominence and his announcement last week to run for president.
“I suspect that in Yale, or wherever they prepare politicians for developing countries… they mixed Russia up with Georgia or some other third-world country,” Markin said in an interview with a pro-government newspaper. In 2003, Georgia went through its Rose Revolution, which led to the formation of a pro-Western government.
Navalny rose to prominence in Russia as a blogger, often exposing corruption in Putin’s government, and his findings have recently caused two members of the Russian Parliament to resign.