Prosecutors question need to arrest Navalny

Russian prosecutors have questioned the need to place protest leader Alexei Navalny under arrest until the appeal against his jail term for embezzlement is heard, a spokeswoman told AFP Thursday.

A court in the city of Kirov on Thursday sentenced Navalny, one of President Vladimir Putin's fiercest critics, to five years in a penal colony and immediately took him into detention.

Kirov prosecutors submitted an appeal against the verdict, saying Navalny could be freed until the sentence is confirmed by the court of appeal and comes into legal force, the spokeswoman for Russia's prosecutor general said.

According to the appeal, he would only have to sign a pledge not to leave his city of residence.

There was no further explanation as to why the prosecutors have made the unanticipated move.

One of Navalny's lawyers, Vadim Kobzev, told the RIA Novosti news agency that a hearing had already been set for 10:00 am (0600 GMT) in Kirov on Friday to hear the prosecutors' appeal.