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Russia

Putin Critic Alexei Navalny Freed On Bail

CNN, KOMMERSANT (Russia), RIANOVOSTI (Russia)

Worldcrunch

KIROV - Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was released from detention on bail Friday, one day after being sentenced to five years for theft and embezzlement.

The Kirov regional court, east of Moscow, ruled that keeping him in custody would deprive him of his right to stand in the mayoral elections in the capital in September, reports Kommersant. The three judges decided to allow him to await the appeal decision at home and to campaign.

Once in Moscow, he will decide whether to boycott the elections or to continue his campaign, Navalny said, according to RIA Novosti news agency.

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Thousands of Russians protested against his conviction, saying it was politically motivated. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said Thursday that the Kirov court verdict confirmed that the judiciary is not independent, reports CNN.

The 37-year-old activist was found guilty of defrauding about $500,000 from a state-run timber company. This prominent campaigner against Vladimir Putin during last year's presidential elections has also accused an array of government officials of corruption.

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