Russia extends house arrest for leading Putin critic

A Russian court on Friday extended the house arrest of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who faces graft charges his supporters say are politically motivated.

PTI| Updated: Oct 11, 2014, 00:30 AM IST

Moscow: A Russian court on Friday extended the house arrest of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who faces graft charges his supporters say are politically motivated.
"The house arrest has been prolonged until January 14," Navalny's lawyer Vadim Kobzev told AFP.

Navalny, the 38-year-old lawyer who became the charismatic leader of the opposition movement against President Vladimir Putin during protests in 2011-12, has been detained at home since February.

The prosecution charges he defrauded French cosmetics firm Yves Rocher of more than half a million euros.

Navalny denies the allegation, and his backers say the move is designed to stifle his criticism by cutting him off from the public.

A spokeswoman for the Moscow court said however that Navalny's detention conditions had now been changed to allow him to discuss the details of his case.

Meanwhile, Yves Rocher is facing increasing international clamour to distance itself from the case against the outspoken Kremlin opponent.

Two French lawyers linked to the Russian opposition on Friday said that 15,000 people had signed up to a petition to try to force the make-up giant to address the issue.

In a statement to AFP, Yves Rocher's subsidiary in Russia rejected any claims that it was responsible for the case, which also targets Navalny's brother Oleg.

"We formally deny that we initiated the legal proceedings against the Navalnys. It was done by the Russian authorities," the statement said.