July 19 - Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny appears in court, freed temporarily from detention but placed under travel restrictions. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
A Russian court temporarily freed opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Friday, as protesters denounce his five-year jail sentence as a crude attempt by President Vladimir Putin to silence him. People took to the streets of big cities in their thousands on Thursday to vent their anger after a court in the city of Kirov sentenced Navalny to five years in jail on what he says were trumped-up theft charges. In a move that could be designed to head off more unrest, the court accepted an unusual request by prosecutors to let Navalny out of detention to await the outcome of an appeal against his verdict, but said his movement would be restricted. Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner who has led protests against Putin, was convicted on Thursday of organising a scheme to steal at least 494,000 USD from a timber firm when he was advising the Kirov regional governor in 2009. He says he did nothing wrong and that the sentence is intended by Putin to sideline him as a potential political rival. The United States and the European Union criticised the verdict and said it raised questions about the rule of law.