Russian tycoon leaves house arrest
A Russian tycoon placed under house arrest in September in a move that rattled markets has been released hours before President Vladimir Putin's annual televised press conference.
A lawyer for Vladimir Yevtushenkov was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying his client had been freed.
The last-minute release echoes a similar move last year when Mr Putin announced after his annual press conference that another tycoon, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, would be set free.
"Vladimir Petrovich (Yevtushenkov) is now a free man who can work productively," lawyer Vladimir Kozin said.
Shares in Sistema, a company Mr Yevtushenkov controls and manages, surged by more than 30% in the early hours of trading on Moscow's MICEX stock exchange.
One of Sistema's most lucrative assets - oil company Bashneft - was transferred to the government this month. Mr Yevtushenkov was charged in September with money-laundering in relation to Bashneft.
A spokesman for Sistema said the company would not comment on the release, but said Mr Kozin's statement to news agencies was accurate. Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for Russia's Investigative Committee, was quoted by Russian news agencies confirming the release.
The rouble rallied slightly in early trading. Russian markets have been rattled by Western sanctions and the rapid fall in the price of oil, and Russia's currency has almost halved since January, plummeting 24% in one day and hitting 80 roubles to the dollar on Tuesday.