A Moscow court has decided to keep Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny under house arrest rather than send him to jail pending trial.

After Navalny was convicted of libel earlier this week, his supporters said they expected the verdict would be used to jail him.

Instead, the court on Thursday ruled to extend his house arrest for six months. Navalny already has been under house arrest for two months.

Navalny, a lawyer who has led efforts to expose high-level government corruption, has faced criminal charges in several cases.

In the current case, Navalny and his brother are accused of defrauding the Russian unit of French cosmetics company Yves Rocher.