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Student Is First Of Russia's 'Bolotnaya' Defendants To Be Freed

A Russian student imprisoned over a May 2012 protest against President Vladimir Putin has been released, becoming the first of the so-called Bolotnaya defendants to be freed.

Yaroslav Belousov was released from a penal colony in the Stavropol region on September 8 after serving his sentence of two years and three months.

Belousov's lawyer said he would resume his studies at Moscow State University.

More than 400 people were arrested after violence erupted at a protest on Moscow's Bolotnaya Square on the eve of Putin's inauguration to a third term.

Dozens have been prosecuted and several have been sentenced to prison, including prominent opposition activist Sergei Udaltsov.

Kremlin opponents say the "Bolotnaya Case" is part of a campaign to stifle dissent.

They contend that protesters were provoked and that the state's claims of violence are exaggerated.

With reporting by Interfax and ITAR-TASS