Russian Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny out of Moscow prison

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Media captionAlexei Navalny is part of a new generation of opposition figures, reports Sarah Rainsford in Moscow

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has been released from prison after serving a 15-day sentence for handing out leaflets to promote a protest rally.

The Russian opposition leader vowed not to "step back" as he left detention a week after the killing of another opposition figure, Boris Nemtsov.

The 1 March rally for which Navalny was leafleting instead became a mourning march for Mr Nemtsov.

Navalny says the legal cases against him are politically motivated.

Last year he and his brother Oleg were found guilty of stealing 30m roubles ($462,000;£300,000) from two companies.

Oleg was given a three-and-a-half-year jail sentence, while Navalny received a suspended sentence that prosecutors say they will appeal against.

'Didn't frighten anyone'

Speaking to reporters outside a Moscow detention centre, he pledged to continue his work despite the murder of Mr Nemtsov, who was shot dead outside the Kremlin walls in what his allies say was a political killing.

"We won't reduce our efforts; we won't step back," Navalny said. "That terrorist act didn't achieve its aim; it didn't frighten anyone."

Navalny was not allowed out of prison to attend the funeral of Mr Nemtsov on Tuesday.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Alexei Navalny (left) and his brother Oleg were both found guilty in December

Death threats

Meanwhile Mr Nemtsov's Ukrainian girlfriend, who was with him when he was shot dead, has told police she has received death threats, Ukrainian prosecutors said on Friday.

Anna Duritskaya, a 23-year old model, was being provided with protection, they added.

Tens of thousands of people marched through central Moscow and St Petersburg on Sunday to honour Mr Nemtsov, who had been preparing documents on Russian military involvement in Ukraine before his death.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Crowds in Moscow shouted "Russia without Putin"

Mourners at the march, which Mr Nemtsov had been due to lead, carried portraits of him and banners saying: "I am not afraid".

His allies have accused the Kremlin of involvement in his death, but President Vladimir Putin condemned the murder as "vile" and vowed to find the killers.

Navalny had urged his followers to attend the March 1 rally. He previously led Moscow street protests against President Putin between 2011 and 2012.

Critics of the Kremlin and the US say that the legal cases against him are an attempt to stifle political dissent.

Since he was sentenced for fraud in December, Navalny has taken an increasingly defiant stance, cutting off his house arrest tag in January.

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