Navalny at a rally in Moscow, May 2012.
Maxim Shemetov / Courtesy Reuters

On Wednesday morning, in a courtroom in the city of Kirov, 500 miles from Moscow, Alexei Navalny will finally face the moment he has been expecting for years. Navalny, the most well-known leader of the opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin, will go on trial for allegations that he helped embezzle 16 million rubles (around $500,000) from a state-run timber company. The actual charges are strange, and even Russia’s investigative bodies acknowledge the overtly political nature of the case. For Navalny and those who have followed his rise, it was only a matter of time before the state unleashed its repressive apparatus

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