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Russian Opposition Leader Navalny Released From Jail


Opposition leader and anticorruption blogger Aleksei Navalny leaves a detention center in Moscow on March 6.

Opposition leader and anticorruption blogger Aleksei Navalny leaves a detention center in Moscow on March 6.

Prominent Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has walked out of a Moscow detention center and vowed to continue challenging President Vladimir Putin's government folling the slaying of Kremlin critic Boris Nemstov.

Navalny was released on March 6 after serving 15 days for distributing leaflets promoting a protest planned for March 1.

The rally turned into a march mourning Nemtsov, who was gunned down in Moscow late on February 27.

Speaking after his release, Navalny said, "Our activity won't change at all, we won't reduce our efforts, we won't step back."

“That terrorist act that took place didn't achieve its aim, it didn't frighten anyone, doesn't frighten me or my associates," he told journalists.

Navalny has said he believes Nemtsov was killed under "an order from the political leadership of the country," stressing that included Putin.

Last month, a Moscow court upheld sentences imposed in December on Navalny and his brother Oleg.

The two were convicted of stealing 30 million rubles (nearly $500,000) from two firms between 2008 and 2012.

Oleg was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison and Aleksei received a 3 1/2-year suspended sentence.

Both brothers rejected the charges as politically motivated.

Like Nemtsov, Navalny has sought to expose corruption among high officials and allies of Putin.

Ukrainian Witness Threats

Also on March 6, Ukrainian authorities said they had opened a criminal investigation after a key witness in Nemtsov’s killing said she had received threats.

Anna Durytska, a 23-year-old Ukrainian model, was with Nemtsov when he was killed.

The Ukrainian Prosecutor-General's Office said that Durytska told Kyiv police she had received death threats from unknown people.

It said Prosecutor-General Viktor Shokin had ordered that "all necessary measures are taken to protect the life and health" of Durytska.

A spokesman for the Prosecutor-General's Office, Andriy Demartyno, told the AFP news agency that several "police special forces officers" will ensure her safety.

Durytska said on March 3 that she did not see Nemtsov's killer, and could not make out the model or license number of a car she saw near the scene.

Shortly after Nemtsov's killing, Putin called it a "provocation" and vowed to bring those responsible to justice.

Investigators said on February 28 that they were looking into several theories about the killing, including the possibility that it could have been linked to Islamic extremism or the conflict between government forces and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

They also said Nemtsov could have been used as a "sacrificial victim" to further political aims, wording pointing the finger at the opposition.

Many government opponents claim the Kremlin bears responsibility regardless of who pulled the trigger, saying Putin has created a culture of hatred that fans anger at the opposition and the West.

With reporting by Reuters, TASS, Interfax, AFP, UNIAN, and the BBC
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