One of Russia's most prominent opposition leaders claims that President Vladimir Putin has "undoubtedly" ordered an embezzlement trial against him.

Alexey Navalny, a lawyer and popular blogger, exposed official corruption and spearheaded a series of massive protests in Moscow against Putin's return to the presidency. He is to go on trial April 17 on charges of leading an organized crime group that stole timber worth about $500,000 while he worked for a provincial governor.

Navalny said in an interview on Ekho Moskvy radio Monday that "of course, he had no doubts" that Putin gave direct orders to try him.

Scores of opposition activists have faced arrests, searches and criminal probes after the anti-Putin rallies.