Kremlin officials blasted the U.S. government for expressing support for protests that swept Russia in support of arrested opposition leader Alexei Navalny, accusing the U.S. of backing violations of the law.
The protests, which drew tens of thousands of demonstrators, led police to make thousands of arrests. U.S. officials making statements in support of the demonstrators and condemning the police response included the U.S. embassy in Moscow, the State Department, Sen. Ben SasseBen SasseFormer official acknowledges final days in office a ‘black eye’ for Trump Republican senators and courage The next pandemic may be cyber — How Biden administration can stop it MORE (R-Neb.) and Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulCheney tests Trump grip on GOP post-presidency US ambassador to Israel Twitter account briefly includes West Bank, Gaza Biden urged to reverse Pompeo-Trump move on Houthis MORE (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“The U.S. supports the right of all people to peaceful protest, freedom of expression,” embassy spokeswoman Rebecca Ross tweeted. “Steps being taken by Russian authorities are suppressing those rights.”
We’re watching reports of protests in 38 Russian cities, arrests of 350+ peaceful protesters and journalists. The U.S. supports the right of all people to peaceful protest, freedom of expression. Steps being taken by Russian authorities are suppressing those rights.
— Rebecca Ross (@USEmbRuPress) January 23, 2021
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinRussian protesters pelt police with snowballs as more than 2,000 arrested Russia arrests hundreds of protesters demanding release of Kremlin critic Navalny What might have been, if Trump had not acted as his own worst enemy MORE, said in a statement that U.S. officials’ reactions “indirectly constitute absolute interference in our internal affairs” and are “direct support for the violation of the law of the Russian Federation, support for unauthorized actions,” according to The Associated Press.
“[M]any will say that many people came out for the illegal actions,” Peskov added. “No, few people came out; many people vote for Putin.”
Navalny became ill on a domestic flight last year and was rushed to a German hospital, which diagnosed him as having been poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok.
After his discharge from the hospital, Russia’s prison agency informed him that he would be in violation of the terms of a 2014 suspended sentence unless he returned to Russia immediately. Navalny returned to Moscow last weekend, five months after leaving Russia, and was arrested at the airport.
Navalny is set to appear for a court hearing Feb. 2.