January 5, 2015 / 2:53 PM / 3 years ago

Kremlin critic cuts monitor tag, won't comply with house arrest

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said on Monday he would no longer comply with the terms of his house arrest and had cut off his monitoring tag.

Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny (front) and his brother and co-defendant Oleg attend a court hearing in Moscow December 30, 2014. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Navalny, who led mass protests against Putin three years ago, was handed a suspended sentence on Dec. 30 after being found guilty of embezzling money in a trial which led to his brother being jailed on similar charges.

He was placed under house arrest almost a year ago during the investigation but said in a blog that he was perhaps the only person in Russian legal history to be kept under house arrest after being sentenced.

He said he should have been released after sentencing in late December, but instead was being held pending the publication of the verdict on Jan. 15 - a situation that even the police did not know how to deal with.

“It is stupid to brag, but I am the first person in the history of Russian courts to be sitting under house arrest after the verdict,” he said on his blog.

“I refuse to comply with the requirements of my illegal detention under house arrest. The bracelet with some effort has been cut off with kitchen scissors,” he wrote, alongside a picture of the bracelet, or tag, that monitors his movements.

He said he had no plans to travel far.

When Navalny was handed his suspended sentence, his brother was jailed for three and a half years. They had faced charges of stealing 30 million rubles, around $500,000 at the current exchange rate, from two firms including an affiliate of French cosmetics company Yves Rocher between 2008 and 2012.

Opposition figures say jailing Navalny risked new protests so he was being punished through his brother instead. The Kremlin denies influencing court decisions.

After the sentencing, Navalny broke house arrest to join a rally of hundreds of his supporters outside the Kremlin but was swiftly detained and driven home by police.

Navalny led the mass demonstrations in the winter of 2011-12 that at times brought tens of thousands of people on to the streets of Moscow and several other big Russian cities to protest against corruption and alleged election fraud.

($1 = 59.4970 rubles)

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper Editing by Jeremy Gaunt

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