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A court in Moscow has rejected a prosecutor's demand to place Russia's outspoken opposition blogger Aleksei Navalny into pretrial detention.

The court started preliminary hearings into a case against Navalny and his brother Oleg on August 1.

The prosecution asked the court to incarcerate Navalny, saying that he had violated his house arrest conditions by using the Internet.

Navalny wrote on Twitter that he used the Internet to post some documents related to the case.

The Navalny brothers face charges of stealing and laundering $760,000 from French cosmetics company Yves Rocher.

Navalny has been under house arrest since February and banned from using the Internet.

The case is one of several targeting Navalny, who is already serving a five-year suspended sentence on a separate 2013 theft charge.

He denies any wrongdoing, saying all probes against him are politically motivated.

Based on reporting by Interfax and ITAR-TASS

A law seen by rights defenders as another move to curb freedom of expression has come into force in Russia as of August 1.

The new law, signed by President Vladimir Putin in May, obliges bloggers with more than 3,000 daily readers to register with the mass media regulator, Roskomnadzor, and conform to the regulations that govern Russia's regular media outlets.

According to the law, bloggers cannot remain anonymous, while social networks must maintain data on their users for six months.

The information must be stored on servers based in Russian territory, so that authorities can gain access.

Hugh Williamson, of New York-based Human Rights Watch, called the law after it was adopted by the Russian parliament in April "another milestone in Russia's relentless crackdown on free expression."

Based on reporting by Interfax, ITAR-TASS and hrw.org

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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