July 19 - Leading Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny is temporarily released from detention following popular outrage and international condemnation. Lily Grimes reports.
Released to applause, the moment Alexei Navalny walks free from a Moscow court just one day after being sentenced to five years in jail. Navalny maintains he did nothing wrong and that the sentence is intended by Putin to sideline him as a potential political rival. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN PROTEST LEADER ALEXEI NAVALNY, SAYING: "I am not their pet kitten or puppy whom they can throw out of the elections and say 'you will not take part' and then decide 'okay, let him in for a month to take part in the elections.' I will now return to Moscow and will discuss everything with my electoral campaign staff." The court approved an unusual prosecution request to release him while he awaits the outcome of an appeal. Navalny was convicted on Thursday of stealing at least 494,000 USD from a timber firm when he was advising the Kirov regional governor in 2009. The verdict immediately attracted widespread criticism, with thousands taking to the streets of Russia's major cities to vent their fury at the verdict. Analysts say his release could be a political manoeuvre to head off social unrest. The United States and European Union criticised his conviction and said it raised questions about the rule of law and Russia's treatment of Putin's opponents.