Protests in Moscow after ruling

Protests broke out in Moscow on Tuesday night, as hundreds gathered in front of the Kremlin in opposition to the sentencing of a critic of President Vladimir Putin.

Police moved to disperse those protesters, apparently arresting some. The demonstrations followed a Russian court offering a suspended sentence earlier Tuesday to anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny after he was found guilty of embezzling money, and jailing his brother, Oleg, for 3 ½ years, who was also convicted of the same charge. The case has been portrayed by critics of Moscow as part of a campaign to stifle dissent.

The Russian ruble did not move much against the U.S. dollar after Tuesday's protests began.

The U.S. State Department called the sentencing and jailing of the Navalny brothers "a disturbing development designed to punish and deter political activism."

Police dispersed the protest after two hours, detaining more than 100 people.

Alexei Navalny (C), Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption blogger, walks to attend an opposition rally in Moscow Dec. 30, 2014.
Anton Belitskiy | Reuters
Alexei Navalny (C), Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption blogger, walks to attend an opposition rally in Moscow Dec. 30, 2014.

Navalny led mass protests against Putin three years ago, when tens of thousands took to the streets in Moscow and St. Petersburg to protest against corruption in his government and inner circle.

Opposition figures say jailing Navalny risked a new wave of protests so he was being punished through his brother instead. The EU said the verdict appeared to be politically motivated and a German official said the ruling was a blow to civil society.

The Navalny brothers were accused of stealing 30 million rubles, around $500,000 at the current exchange rate, from two firms including an affiliate of the French cosmetics company Yves Rocher between 2008 and 2012.

—Reuters contributed to this report.