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Four Russians Under House Arrest For Ukrainian Flag Stunt

A Moscow city worker takes a selfie while atop the Kotelnicheskaya Embankment building in Moscow to remove the Ukrainian flag mounted there overnight on August 19-20.

A Russian court has ordered house arrest for four Muscovites accused of hanging a Ukrainian flag from a Soviet-era star atop a building near the Kremlin.

The suspects could be imprisoned for seven years for the stunt, in which activists also painted part of the star in the blue-and-yellow colors of Ukraine's flag.

Police had initially accused them of vandalism, a less serious crime, but changed the charge to hooliganism and asked the court to place them in pretrial detention.

The judges ordered house arrest instead.

The two men and two women have admitted to parachuting from the big Stalin-era building but denied putting up the flag or painting the star.

Russian-Ukrainian relations have been severely strained by Moscow's annexation of Crimea and the conflict between government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.