Alexei Navalny, the Russian lawyer and anti-corruption blogger, will be barred from challenging Vladimir Putin in next year’s presidential elections after a Russian court handed him a five-year suspended prison sentence.

Mr Navalny was found guilty of embezzlement on Wednesday morning, in a case independent legal experts and foreign judges have dismissed as groundless.

Mr Navalny was previously seen as one of the only opposition politicians with a chance of rivalling Mr Putin in next year’s elections, but today’s sentence revives a ban on his running for election that had been lifted in November. The decision, which had been expected, is unlikely to be overturned on appeal, according to the record of Russian criminal courts.

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