The United States condemned on Saturday the use of “harsh tactics” by Moscow against tens of thousands of people who demonstrated in Russia at the call of the opposition Alexei Navalni to demand his release.
“The United States strongly condemns the use of harsh tactics against protesters and journalists this weekend in cities across Russia,” State Department spokesman Ned Price wrote in a statement.
The arrest of Navalni and more than 2,500 of his supporters are “worrying signs of further restrictions on civil society and fundamental freedoms,” he added.
“We call on the Russian authorities to release all those detained for exercising their universal rights and the immediate and unconditional release” of Navalni, Price said.
The State Department also urged Moscow to cooperate “fully” with “the international community’s investigation into the poisoning” of Navalni and to “credibly explain the use of a chemical weapon” on its territory.
In Russia, tens of thousands of people across the country responded to Navalni’s call to demonstrate, which he issued after he was detained at a Moscow airport upon arrival from Germany, where he was recovering from a near-fatal poisoning with an agent. nervous.
Saturday’s protests took on an unprecedented scale, encompassing more than 100 cities across the country.
Opposition demonstrations of that size earlier, in 2012 and 2019, were largely focused on Moscow.
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