Opposition activist Alexei Navalny has been released from prison after serving a sentence for repeatedly organizing unauthorized protests. The Russian presidential hopeful may be free but his troubles seem far from over.
A spokeswoman for Alexei Navalny announced that the Russian opposition activist and Kremlin critic had been released from a Moscow prison early Friday morning. Navalny completed a 25-day sentence for having broken Russian laws on the organization of public protests. Kira Yarmysh tweeted: "Today at 9:00 a.m. (0600 GMT/UTC) Alexei Navalny was taken fom the cell block to the Moscow central district police department and now they have let him out of there.
Navalny, who intends to run as a candidate for Russia's presidency next March has been one of President Vladimir Putin's most outspoken critics. That has consistently brought him trouble with Russian authorities. For instance, he has been repeatedly arrested for participating in peaceful protests. In February of last year, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg ordered Russia to pay him damages for several such arrests, which the court said had violated his right to peaceful protest.
The country's Central Election Commission has also declared him ineligible to stand for election due to a criminal conviction for embezzlement. Navalny says that the conviction was politically motivated and designed to keep him out of the election. His lawyers intend to appeal the conviction before the ECHR.
Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation is active throughout Russia and planning a series of campaign events for Saturday. On Thursday, authorities raided the party's Moscow election headquarters, confiscating campaign material. And Navalny ally Leonid Volkov reported that authorities had raided a number of party offices around the country on Friday.
Despite those setbacks, Navalny supporters were relieved to see him released. He has, however, also been the victim of several physical attacks. One of these, in April, involved unknown persons throwing green dye in his face in public, leaving him partially blind in one eye.
js/msh (AFP, Reuters)