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'Swindlers and thieves': Anti-corruption blogger challenges Putin after leaving Russian jail

Denis Sinyakov / Reuters

Anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny speaks with journalists as he leaves a police station on the day of his discharge in Moscow on Dec. 21, 2011. Navalny was arrested at an opposition protest in Moscow on December 5.

Reuters reports from MOSCOW:

 Opposition leader Alexei Navalny used his release from jail on Wednesday to call on Russians to unite against Vladimir Putin whom he said would try to snatch victory in a March 4 presidential election that was sure to be unfair.

Navalny, who has harnessed a mood change among Russia's urban youth against Putin's 12-year rule, was greeted by chants of 'Navalny, Navalny' and applause from supporters who braved a blizzard to await his release from a Moscow police station.

Initially weary and dazzled by scores of television camera lights, Navalny swiftly embarked on a dissection of the disputed December 4 parliamentary election, brandishing his slur of Putin's ruling party as a collection of "swindlers and thieves."

"The party of swindlers and thieves is putting forward its chief swindler and its chief thief for the presidency," Navalny, dressed in jeans and holding a plastic supermarket bag full of clothes, told reporters after his release.

"We must vote against him, struggle against him," Navalny said. "If he does become president, he will not become a legal president, it will be an inherited throne."

Navalny, a 35-year-old anti-corruption blogger, was detained on December 5 for obstructing justice at an opposition protest in central Moscow against alleged vote rigging in the parliamentary election. He was sentenced to 15 days in jail. Read the full story.

Mikhail Voskresensky / Reuters

Policemen detain activists from the Other Russia opposition movement during a rally to protest against the first session of Russia's State Duma and violations during the recent parliamentary elections in Moscow on Dec. 21, 2011.

Ivan Sekretarev / AP

Police officers detain a protester outside the State Duma, the Russian Parliament's lower chamber, during its first session after recent elections, in downtown Moscow on Dec. 21, 2011.

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