Russian Federation rejects Western criticism over Navalny prison term

Russian Federation rejects Western criticism over Navalny prison term

Russian protesters spent hours packed inside the vehicles and lodged in corridors of police precincts as authorities struggle to allocate thousands of people arrested during the rallies sparked by arrest of the opposition leader Alexey Navalny.

Whilst stressing the EU's "full respect" to Russia's sovereignty and "its own responsibility regarding the fulfilment of its worldwide commitments", the EU's foreign policy chief highlighted that rule of law, human rights, civil society, and political freedom are of key importance for the European Union if the aim is to build a "common future". The intergovernmental organization added, detentions of protesters by the Putin regime contradict the Russian Constitution and its worldwide obligations.

Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin's best-known domestic critic, was arrested on January 17 upon returning from his five-month convalescence in Germany from a nerve agent poisoning, which he has blamed on the Kremlin. He said Navalny's team would try to make sure that "every world leader would discuss nothing but Navalny's release with Putin".

He said that protesters won a "huge moral victory" and argued that trying to maintain rallies each weekend would only lead to thousands more arrests and wear participants out. Smirnov denied the charges, and several leading independent media outlets protested his jailing and demanded his immediate release.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had a phone call Thursday with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who raised the issue of Navalny, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

"Even as we work with Russian Federation to advance USA interests, we will coordinate closely with our allies and partners to hold Russian Federation accountable for failing to uphold the rights of its citizens", he said. "The respect of human rights, like that of democratic freedom, is not negotiable".

Mr Navalny, 44, is a political activist who has campaigned against corruption and Mr Putin since 2011.

"The European Court of Human Rights has already determined, in a 2017 judgement, that the conviction on which this sentence is based was arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable".

"The German government condemns this systematic use of violence against peaceful protesters", he said.

He defended the Russian police response to protests as much milder than some police action against demonstrators in Western countries.

In a no-holds-barred response to the protest, police arrested over 10,000 protest participants across Russian Federation and beat scores, according to the OVD-Info group monitoring arrests.

Asked about the police violence, Mr Putin's spokesman Mr Peskov told reporters that unsanctioned protests warranted tough police action.

"Undoubtedly, such activities must be suppressed quite harshly", he said.

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