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Russian protest leaders Alexei Navalny and Ilya Yashin freed from prison

Two leaders of the protests that followed Russia's parliamentary elections – Alexei Navalny and Ilya Yashin – were on Wednesday released from prison in Moscow.

Russian protest leader alexei navalny freed from prisonEnlarge
Anti-Kremlin blogger Alexei Navalny speaks to journalists and supporters outside a police station in Moscow, early on December 21, 2011. (ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Two leaders of the protests that followed Russia's parliamentary elections – Alexei Navalny and Ilya Yashin – were released from prison in Moscow on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.

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Navalny, a lawyer and prominent blogger, and Yashin, an opposition activist, were arrested on Dec. 6 while leading a protest against election fraud – which they say enabled Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia party to retain its majority in the lower house of parliament.

Navalny promised fresh protests as he was freed, just hours before the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, held its first session since the election, the BBC reported.

Navalny, who is expected to speak at a protest planned for Saturday, said he had been "jailed in one country and freed in another."

He told reporters outside the prison:

"I'm not afraid and these 15 days convinced me there is nothing to fear … Let them be afraid instead."

Russia’s parliamentary polls, held on Dec. 4, were widely seen as a litmus test ahead of next March's presidential elections, which Putin plans to contest and is expected to win.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/111221/russian-protest-leaders-alexei-navalny-and-ilya-yashin-fr