Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was released from jail Sunday after three weeks behind bars for organizing anti-Kremlin protests, his second spell in detention in as many months.
The 42-year-old activist left a detention center in the south of Moscow early in the morning and spoke briefly to journalists before leaving in a waiting car.
“Over the 50 days I have been in jail we have seen yet more evidence that this regime is in complete decline,” he said, referencing recent embarrassments to Moscow’s intelligence services abroad and the launch failure of a manned Russian space rocket.
“If anyone thinks that with arrests … they can scare or stop us, that is clearly not the case,” he said after thanking those who supported him.
Authorities have turned up the heat on Vladimir Putin’s main opposition since the Russian president’s approval ratings took a beating over deeply unpopular pension reforms.
The Kremlin critic finished a 30-day sentence in September for organizing a rally at the start of the year, but was arrested as soon as he was released to face further charges over another protest.
The latter demonstration, against the raising of the retirement age, was time to coincide with regional elections last month.
The Kremlin suffered rare defeats in those polls, with voters rejecting candidates from the ruling United Russia party in at least two regions.