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Russia court places Putin opponent under house arrest

Moscow's Basmanny District Court on Friday sentenced Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] to two months of house arrest. Navalny is also banned [Reuters report] from using communication devices or the Internet. Navalny has been a harsh critic of President Vladimir Putin [official website, in Russian; JURIST news archive] through his blog [website] and other social media. He is charged with unsanctioned protest, inciting chaos and resisting arrest. Beyond these charges, Navalny was already serving a jail sentence for protests earlier this week and is accused of embezzlement. The latest arrest came in connection with anti-corruption protests against the conviction anti-Kremlin activists. Opponents of the ruling claim this is yet another attempt by the Russian government to silence one of its more vocal opponents.

Russia has cracked down on dissent recently. In November a Moscow court ruled [JURIST report] the Russian government could seize of Navalny's assets. In October a Russian appeals court upheld [JURIST report] Navalny's embezzlement conviction but suspended his five-year jail sentence, allowing him to walk free. In June the UN released a letter from human rights experts voicing their concern [JURIST report] that two Russian non-governmental organizations have been charged by Russian prosecutors following their involvement with the UN Committee against Torture [official website]. In May a Russian court rejected an appeal [JURIST report] by members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot [RASPI backgrounder; JURIST news archive] against their sentence for a protest against Putin.

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