Police officers detain Russian opposition activist and anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny, 38, center, on his way to attend a rally in Manezhnaya Square in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014.(AP Photo/Anton Belitski)
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A Moscow judge found both Navalny and his brother Oleg guilty of embezzlement and sentenced them to three and a half years, but while Navalny's sentence was suspended, his younger brother, who is not involved in politics, was ordered to serve the time behind bars.Navalny has become a major thorn in the Kremlin's side over the last few years.The Navalny brothers were accused of defrauding French cosmetics company Yves Rocher of 27 million rubles (more than $500,000 at the time), although the firm has said that it suffered no damages.Prosecutors had asked the court to jail Alexei for 10 years and Oleg for eight.Observers say that because of Navalny's prominence the verdict could not have been issued without Putin's personal approval.In a country dominated by Putin for years, observers see Navalny – a maverick politician who exposed the exorbitant wealth of the elite – as the one figure who can pose a threat to the strongman.
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