A Russian court on Wednesday upheld the theft conviction against Navalny but suspended his five-year prison sentence, meaning the prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin will not be jailed. Maxim Shemetov/Reuters Whitney Eulich Latin America Editor Whitney Eulich is the Monitor’s Latin America editor, overseeing regional coverage for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine. She also curates the Latin America Monitor Blog. The Christian Science Monitor Weekly Digital Edition A Russian appeals court today suspended the five-year prison sentence handed down over the summer to opposition leader and anticorruption blogger Alexei Navalny. The ruling, some observers say, highlights the administration’s attempts to keep opposition demonstrations under control and international criticism of Russia to a minimum, particularly in the lead-up to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. The political motivation in this case is obvious, Mr. Navalny told the judge in todays hearing, noting that the prosecutions case was based on false testimony and that he was refused any opportunity to bring witnesses of his own. RECOMMENDED: Do you know anything about Russia? A quiz. Everything that happened last summer and everything that happens today depends on Putin, Navalny said. All the prosecutors, all the lawyers, all the judges are just extras here. In July, a lower court handed down an embezzlement conviction to the outspoken lawyer who rose to prominence during large-scale street protests against President Vladimir Putin in 2011 and 2012. He was released the next day pending the outcome of his appeal. Some political observers felt jailing Navalny could empower the opposition and make him into a martyr, reports Russias official RIA Novosti news agency. In the interim, Navalny ran in the high profile Moscow mayoral race where he won a solid and some say legitimizing 27 percent of the vote against a Putin-allied incumbent.
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struggles to avert non-payment on Treasury bonds, with Sweden bracing itself for a default. A U.S. failure to service its debt would threaten the low-risk status of Treasuries as collateral used around the world, Russian central bank Chairman Elvira Nabiullina said in an e-mailed response to questions from Bloomberg. Endangering the dollars standing seems completely insane, Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg said today, adding that his country will ensure its financial system has access to U.S currency in the event markets are disrupted The more the situation is prolonged, the more far-reaching the consequences, Nabiullina said. Such events result not only in short-term jumps in volatility, but also an erosion of trust in the dollar as a reserve currency and the American financial system as a whole. The U.S. Congress has yet to strike an agreement to increase the nations debt ceiling a day before the government has said it will run short of funds to honor its obligations. In an English-language commentary published Oct. 13, Liu Chang, a writer with Chinas official Xinhua News Agency, called for a new international reserve currency to replace the dollar so that the international community could permanently stay away from the spillover of the intensifying domestic political turmoil in the U.S. Completely Insane As it is an enormous advantage to be a reserve currency it seems completely insane to even contemplate creating insecurity around that status, Borg said. China is the biggest foreign holder of Treasuries, with $1.28 trillion at the end of July. Russia, which as accumulated the worlds fourth-largest international reserves, has reduced its holdings of U.S. government debt by 25 percent from a record high on Oct. 31, 2010, to $131.6 billion in July, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Weve never been in an equivalent situation before and its therefore very difficult to judge what impact it will have, Borg said in an interview with state broadcaster SVT. Its essentially about fear and psychological factors. Rates on Treasury bills due tomorrow surged 12 basis points, or 0.12 percentage point, yesterday to 0.32 percent as investors fret over the risk of non-payment.
After discussions in Geneva involving Iran and the five U.N. Security Council members – the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia – and Germany, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said he saw no guarantee of progress in future talks. “The result is better than in Almaty (talks in April), but it does not guarantee further progress, there could have been better cooperation,” Ryabkov was quoted by Interfax as saying. “One of the reasons was an exceptionally low level of mutual trust, almost the lack of required trust,” he was quoted as saying by Itar-Tass. “The positions of the Iranian side and the group (of six powers) are wide apart from each other – the distance can be measured in kilometers, while advances forward can be measured in steps – half a meter each.” Western diplomats praised the two-day round, expressing hope of success in further talks set for November 7-8, again in Geneva. The Islamic Republic began negotiations with the six powers after Hassan Rouhani was elected president in June, promising conciliation over confrontation in relations with the rest of the world. Ryabkov said the rhetoric of the nuclear talks was different due to the change of leadership. “We felt that indeed the tone of talks, the character of discussions reflected those changes,” he was quoted as saying. “At the same time the talks were difficult, at times tense, at times unpredictable.” Western powers and their allies suspect Tehran is seeking the capability to produce nuclear bombs. Iran denies it, saying its nuclear program is peaceful. Iran has for years demanded the West lift sanctions on its oil and banking sector and recognize its right to enrich uranium before it makes any concessions. (Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk; Editing by Andrew Roche)