Protests in Russia show frustration with authoritarianism / Moscow rejects criticism

The protests in Russia reflected citizens’ discontent with corruption and authoritarianism, says US Secretary of State Anthony Blinkin, but the Vladimir Putin administration has said it will not heed Washington’s criticism.

“It’s about frustrating Russian citizens with corruption and tyranny,” said Anthony Blinken in an interview with NBC News, according to Axios.com. And Anthony Blinken stressed, “We are extremely concerned about the violent acts of repression against people who exercise their right to peacefully protest against the government, which are the rights guaranteed by the Russian Constitution.”

The new US Secretary of State stressed that the Biden administration wants to work with Russia to extend the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), but indicated that Washington will also consider the role of Moscow’s actions against US national security. Blinken denied Russia’s accusations of alleged US interference in opposition protests. Anthony Blinken stressed that “the Russian administration is making a big mistake if it believes that the matter concerns us. It is not about us, it is about the situation in Russia.”

Earlier Sunday, Anthony Blinken said: “The United States condemns the continued use of harsh tactics against peaceful protesters and journalists for the second week in a row. We reiterate Russia’s call for the release of all detainees to exercise their rights, including Alexei Navalny.”

Tens of thousands demonstrated, on Sunday, in several Russian cities, demanding the release of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. More than 5,600 protesters have been arrested, most of them in the cities of Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Krasnoyarsk and Nizhny Novgorod, according to the Prosecutor’s Office.

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The Vladimir Putin administration rejected the US criticism of the protests. “We are not prepared to accept or heed US statements on this situation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Vladimir Ashurkov, Alexei Navalny’s ally, sent a letter to US President Joseph Biden calling for sanctions to be imposed on businessmen associated with President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin responded by accusing the anti-corruption institution Alexei Navalny had set up of acting as a “foreign agent”.

Dmitry Peskov said that there would be no dialogue with the “rioters” present at the opposition protests. Reuters quoted a Kremlin spokesman as saying, “It is not possible to have a conversation with the rioters and inciters, the law must be applied with the utmost strictness.”

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