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Putin foe to lead unregistered party

AFP-JIJI

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny announced Sunday he has been elected president of the unregistered Popular Alliance party.

Navalny had previously said he wanted to keep his distance from Popular Alliance to boost its chances of becoming a registered party, but in July the Justice Ministry rejected its request.

The protest leader proved himself a force to be reckoned with after he came second to a Kremlin loyalist in mayoral elections in Moscow in September. He won 27 percent on an aggressive anti-immigrant, anti-corruption platform.

The protest leader first shot to prominence during anti-Putin rallies that shook Moscow in the winter of 2011-12, but has since been embroiled in a series of legal battles. Earlier this month, Russian investigators moved to indict him for alleged fraud and money-laundering, after a separate five-year sentence on embezzlement charges was commuted to a suspended term.