Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has been released from jail after serving 50 days for organizing antigovernment protests.
Navalny left a detention center south of Moscow in the early morning of October 14 and was driven away in a waiting car after thanking supporters and briefly speaking to reporters.
“Over the 50 days I have been in jail, we have seen yet more evidence that this regime is in complete decline," he said, citing recent allegations related to Russia’s intelligence services and the harrowing emergency landing after the failed launch of a Russian space rocket.
"If anyone thinks that with arrests...they can scare or stop us, that is clearly not the case," he added.
Navalny was sentenced on September 24 to 20 days in jail for organizing an opposition protest earlier in the year.
The ruling sent him back to jail just a day after he had been freed following completion of a monthlong sentence for a previous conviction.
A vocal foe of President Vladimir Putin, the often-jailed Navalny has organized large street protests on several occasions and published a series of reports alleging corruption in Russia's ruling elite.
In August, Navalny was detained by police in Moscow and sentenced to 30 days in jail for helping to organize a street rally in the Russian capital in January.
That demonstration in Moscow, along with similar protests in other Russian cities, drew thousands of people dismayed by the prospect of six more years under Putin, who was first elected president in 2000.
The authorities have turned up the pressure on Navalny at a time when Putin’s popularity has declined with the public over the government's proposal to raise the retirement age.
Navalny has said his jail sentence was designed by the authorities to prevent him from leading protests against the unpopular pension reforms.
Navalny has been handed suspended prison sentences following guilty verdicts in two financial-crimes trials he and his supporters contend were Kremlin-orchestrated efforts to punish him for his opposition activity and for reports he has published alleging corruption among Putin's allies.
The convictions also prevented him from being an official candidate in Russia's March 2018 presidential election.
The suspended sentences kept him out of prison, but Navalny has repeatedly been arrested and jailed for what courts have ruled were administrative offenses, mostly in reaction to street protests he helped organize.
According to Navalny spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh, the 42-year-old has spent nearly 200 days in jail since 2011 and 140 days since the start of his attempt to campaign for the 2018 presidential election.
Amnesty International called Navalny "a prisoner of conscience [who] has not committed any crime."