After spending the night in jail following his 5-year jail sentence on embezzlement charges, Russian political activist and 2010 Yale World Fellow Alexei Navalny left captivity on a release pending his appeal.

The turn of events was unexpected — Navalny’s prosecutor himself asked for his release on bail in light of his appeals in court Friday morning. Though he remains a convicted felon, Navalny’s increased freedom during the appeal trials allows him to continue running in the Moscow mayoral elections in September.

Political commentators are speculating whether this is another political move designed seemingly to legitimize the mayoral race by not preventing a candidate from running. But if Navalny’s appeal fails, he will not legally be allowed to hold office.

Thousands of Navalny’s supporters took to the streets yesterday after his sentencing, rallying at the Kremlin walls and blocking Moscow traffic. After a day of outcry and the surprise in court this morning, Navalny was able to make light of his situation to reporters.

“I request that you verify the identity of Prosecutor Sergei Bogdanov,” Navalny said while leaving court, The New York Times reported. “It’s possible that it is not Prosecutor Bogdanov but his double. Because it was namely Prosecutor Bogdanov demanded that I be arrested in the courtroom.”