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Russian Journalist Jailed for Violating Virus Ban Released 

Prominent Russian journalist Ilya Azar, who was sentenced for holding a one-person protest amid lockdown, gestures while speaking to the media shortly after his release in Moscow, Russia, June 7, 2020.

A Russian journalist whose jailing prompted protests in which police detained demonstrators has been released.

The detentions brought criticism that authorities were using coronavirus restrictions to suppress opposition.

Ilya Azar was sentenced to 15 days in jail on May 28, but was released Sunday after a court reduced his sentence.

Azar was arrested after holding a one-man picket outside police headquarters in Moscow against the jailing on extortion charges of an activist who monitors police corruption. He was jailed for violating a ban on public gatherings during the coronavirus lockdown.

Other pickets protesting his jailing took place in Moscow and St. Petersburg and at least 35 people were detained, many of them charged with violating the gatherings ban.

Amnesty International, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and Russia’s Presidential Human Rights Council have all condemned the Russian crackdown.