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Putin regime may fall in 2 years, opponent says ahead of trial

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The regime of President Vladimir Putin could collapse within the next two years, charismatic opposition leader Alexei Navalny said Tuesday in defiant comments a day ahead of his trial.

Navalny goes on trial Wednesday in the provincial northern city of Kirov on embezzlement charges that he says were ordered by Putin and could see him jailed for up to 10 years.

The anti-corruption campaigner, 36, told the Gazeta.ru online newspaper that he expected to be convicted in the case and that it is "completely possible" that he will be jailed.

"Either we are going to sweep them (the authorities) away or they are going to jail us all. Most likely, they are going to jail us all and then we will sweep them away," said Navalny.

"The system will collapse but this could still take several years. Our task is to bring this closer."

"Last year I was saying that the system will not last one-and-a-half to two years. Now my predictions are more pessimistic but I still do not give it more than two years," he said.

The comments were Navalny's latest provocative message to Putin after he declared earlier this month he wanted to stand for Russian president to change the situation in the country.

Navalny told Gazeta.ru he was fully prepared for the trial, saying colleagues from its anti-corruption fund had already been Kirov to rent a flat to set up a headquarters for the trial.

He said there was no doubt a "decision" had already been taken to convict him and the only question was whether he would be sent to jail or given a suspended term.

The trial looks like it will be a "lengthy process," lasting several months, he added.

Navalny is charged with organising the misappropriation in a timber deal of more than 16 million rubles ($509,000) from the Kirov regional government that he advised in 2009.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130416/putin-regime-may-fall-2-years-opponent-says-ahead-trial