Russia releases two opposition leaders: reports

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Russia has released opposition leaders Boris Nemtsov and Eduard Limonov after a two-week detention following their arrests during a sanctioned New Year's Eve rally, local media said Saturday.

Former deputy prime minister Nemtsov was taken to a police station in central Moscow where he was freed.

"They wanted to make me scared, but they didn't succeed," he said, according to the Ria-Novosti news agency.

He said he made good use of his 15-day imprisonment to spread "political propaganda" among the 13 inmates who shared his cell.

Separately, dissident writer Limonov, leader of a left-wing nationalist opposition movement, was also freed, Interfax news agency reported.

Both men were arrested on December 31 for leading rallies calling for the respect of Article 31 in the constitution which guarantees freedom of assembly. They were later convicted of disobeying police orders.

Two other opponents Konstantin Kosyakin and Iliya Yashin were also jailed from five to 10 days for similar reasons.

Russian police arrested a total of 68 people in Moscow and 50 in Saint Petersburg during last month's rallies. The United States slammed the arrests as contrary to President Dmitry Medvedev's liberal rhetoric and the country's long-term interests.

A lawyer for Nemtsov earlier this week filed an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights over his arrest and imprisonment by the Moscow police.

© 2011 AFP

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