MOSCOW : A Moscow court on Friday ordered Russian protest leader Alexei Navalny to be placed under house arrest after a request from investigators probing an alleged embezzlement case.

Navalny, who last year was given a suspended five-year sentence in a separate timber embezzlement case, faces charges in this case along with his brother Oleg of stealing and laundering a total of 51 million rubles ($1.4 million) from cosmetics company Yves Rocher and a Russian firm.

Investigators had already made Navalny sign a pledge not to leave Moscow but asked for his restrictions to be stepped up to house arrest, arguing he had repeatedly violated the restrictions imposed on him. As well as being unable to leave his home in the Moscow region, the tough new restrictions imposed by a district court mean that Navalny will only be able to talk to relatives, investigators and his defence.