The United States strongly condemns the detention of hundreds of peaceful protesters throughout Russia on March 26.The detention of protesters, including human rights observers, and journalists “is an affront to core democratic values,” said Acting State Department Spokesperson Mark Toner in written statement.
Human rights activist and anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny called on people to peacefully protest after publishing a report that alleges that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has a portfolio of assets including “huge pieces of land in the most sought-after regions, yachts, apartments in old mansions, agricultural complexes and wineries in Russia and abroad.”Navalny’s report claims this was all purchased through “bribes from oligarchs, and state bank loans.”
Mr. Navalny was ordered jailed by Russian authorities for 15 days and fined 350 dollars after being convicted of organizing the march and disturbing public peace. He was among more than 1,000 people taken into custody after police and protesters clashed around Moscow’s centrally located Alexander Pushkin Square.
Mr. Navalny’s Moscow office, the Anti-Corruption Foundation, was ransacked by Russian police, who took away computers and other equipment, according to his press secretary, Kira Yarmysh. A lawyer for the foundation said 13 employees had been detained.
Mr. Toner said the United States was “troubled to hear of the arrest of opposition figure Alexei Navalny upon arrival at the demonstration, as well as the police raids on the anti-corruption organization he heads.”
The rallies appear to be the largest coordinated protests in Russia since the street protests that broke out in 2011 and 2012 after a parliamentary election that opposition leaders condemned as fraudulent.
The United States, said Mr. Toner, calls on “the government of Russia to immediately release all peaceful protesters. The Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve a government that supports an open marketplace of ideas, transparent and accountable governance, equal treatment under the law, and the ability to exercise their rights without fear of retribution.”