MOSCOW — Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny walked free Thursday after spending 30 days in custody for staging an unsanctioned protest.
Soon after his release Thursday, Navalny said in an Instagram post that the jail where he was held had received a massive face-lift ahead of the World Cup, apparently in anticipation of arresting rowdy foreign fans.
In a later live broadcast on YouTube, he apologized to the "great number of mass media that reported the claim."
"All of it, from the first word to the last, was a fabrication," he said, laughing. "I apologize in front of everyone."
Navalny had said that the cells had replaced their usual pit latrines with flush toilets, that normally poor rations were replaced with rich menus offering ample choice complete with alcohol-free beer and various desserts and that huge TV sets were put in each cell.
Navalny called a series of rallies in the Russian capital and other cities on May 5, just before Putin's inauguration for a new term. Demonstrations under the slogan "He is not our czar" took place throughout the country.
A court in Moscow convicted Navalny on charges of organizing an unauthorized rally and resisting police, and ordered him jailed for 30 days.
The anti-corruption campaigner has served several weekslong jail terms in the past for organizing other protests.