Opposition Leader Facing Jail Condemns Putin

Sentence for theft could keep him from running against Russian president


Protest leader Alexei Navalny said on Friday he would destroy the political system under President Vladimir Putin that was "sucking the blood out of Russia", after state prosecutors demanded he be jailed for six years on theft charges.

Navalny says the trial, in the industrial city of Kirov, is intended to sideline him as a potential rival to Putin. A six-year term would keep the anti-corruption campaigner in prison until after the next presidential election, scheduled for 2018.

Navalny, the most prominent opposition leader to be tried in post-Soviet Russia, denied the charge of stealing 16 million roubles ($482,000) from a local timber firm that he was advising in 2009 while working for the liberal Kirov region governor.