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Wednesday
Dec142016

Navalny announces run for Russia president in 2018

Russia's most important anti-corruption activist said he'll run for the country's presidency in 2018.

Alexei Navalny, 40, leads the opposition Party of Progress.

He announced his candidacy in a video Tuesday.

Navalny has called current Russian President Vladimir Putin "the Tsar of corruption." He labelled Putin's ruling United Russia party "the party of crooks and thieves."

Last month Russia's Supreme Court lifted a ban that prevented Navalny from running for office.

The ban was based on a 2013 conviction for embezzlement from a state-owned timber company.

The judge sentenced him to five years in prison but suspended the jail time.

Western countries condemned his prosecution as politically motivated.

Before being banned from politics, Navlany ran for mayor of Moscow in 2013. He lost to the incumbent, Sergei Sobyanin, a Putin crony. Navalny's strong showing with nearly 30 percent of the vote surprised the Kremlin.

Navalny trained as a lawyer. In 2010, he published what he said was evidence of a $4 billion fraud at Transneft, a state-owned firm with a monopoly on transporting oil produced in Russia.

The Supreme Court ruled last month Navalny's embezzlement trial was unfair.

Prosecutors could retry him. If convicted, he'll face another political ban.

Navalny led mass protests in December 2011 against parliamentary elections he said were rigged. He also led protests in Moscow after Putin's re-election in March 2012.

Putin hasn’t said if he'll run again in 2018.

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Here's Navalny's video announcement in Russian. Go to settings, subtitles, and pick your language.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.