The Russian Foreign Ministry accused the United States of “blatant interference” in its internal affairs after Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken condemned Moscow’s crackdown on demonstrators who took to the streets on Sunday to demand the release of Alexei Navalny’s opponent.
The Russian ministry responded to a tweet from Blinken criticizing the “harsh tactics of the Russian authorities against peaceful protesters and journalists” during Sunday’s nationwide protests, Agrippress reported.
“The United States condemns Russia’s continued use of brutal tactics against peaceful protesters and journalists for the second week in a row, and renews its call for the release of detainees, including Alexei Navalny,” Foreign Minister Antonio Blinken said on Twitter.
Russian police arrested more than 3,800 people on Sunday and locked down central cities, including the capital, during fresh protests in several cities across the country.
In St. Petersburg, another opposition stronghold, nearly 3,000 people gathered in the downtown square and were dispersed by riot police. Demonstrations also took place in Vladivostok and Novosibirsk. Russian authorities say the protests are not authorized.
At least 35 of the 4,400 people arrested are journalists
According to the OVD-Info organization that specializes in monitoring demonstrations, at least 4,400 people have been arrested in 82 cities, but mainly in Moscow (1,080). Among those arrested is Navalny’s wife, Julia, who came to participate in the demonstration.
According to the Russian Federation of Journalists, at least 35 media representatives have been arrested.
These demonstrations came on the heels of the first day of the movement on Saturday, which gathered tens of thousands of demonstrators and led to the arrest of more than 4,000 people, as well as the opening of about twenty criminal cases.
Alexei Navalny is the subject of several legal proceedings that he considers politically motivated.
The 44-year-old Kremlin anti-corruption activist and archenemy of the Kremlin returned to Russia on January 17 after months of convalescence in Germany after the alleged poisoning of Vladimir Putin and the Russian security services.